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NASCAR nails another driver for substance abuse

by Pete McCole
Saturday, May 09, 2009

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Jeremy Mayfield
NASCAR officials announced today that NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield has been suspended indefinitely for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy.

Mayfield, the driver of the no. 41 Toyota, was one of three people suspended by NASCAR on Saturday, along with Tony Martin, a member of the no. 34 Sprint Cup team; and Ben Williams, a member of the no. 16 team in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

All three were found in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 7-5 (violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy) of the 2009 NASCAR rule book and will be begin serving their suspension immediately.

Mayfield failed to qualify for Saturday night’s Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

“NASCAR has one of the toughest substance abuse policies in all of sports, that’s number one,” said Jim Hunter, NASCAR Vice President of Corporate Communications. “It’s all about safety and competition and a positive result means an indefinite suspension from all competition.

“The implementation of the random testing aspect of this program has been welcomed and supported by the drivers, owners and other competitors in the sport.”

Hunter would not disclose what substance any of the three tested positive for.

NASCAR has been resolute in enforcing its policy of zero tolerance for substance abuse and began a rigorous drug testing policy at the beginning of the 2009 season, including tests for performance-enhancing drugs as well as illegal drugs prescription medications.

Under the new policy, NASCAR tested all drivers participating their top three tier divisions and mandated owners to verify that all licensed crew members have been tested by a certified lab prior to the start of the season.

Mayfield Motorsports crew member Paul Chodora was suspended on Feb. 11 after failing a drug test at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

Mayfield, who is in his 17th season in the Sprint Cup Series, has five wins and nine poles in his 433 career Sprint Cup starts driving for Cale Yarborough, Roger Penske, Ray Evernham, Bill Davis and Gene Haas.

Mayfield formed his own team, Mayfield Motorsports, for the start of the 2009 season and has qualified for five of the ten events this season, posting a best finish of 32nd at Talladega in April.

Mayfield, as the listed owner of the no. 41, will not be allowed to participate in any NASCAR-sanctioned event as a driver or car owner. Mayfield’s team is co-owned by Gary Smith, the Chairman and CEO of Big Red, Inc., a beverage company that serves as Mayfield’s primary sponsor.

Hunter said that Mayfield failed a random drug test administered during last weekend’s NASCAR event at Richmond Int’l Raceway, the results of which were received by NASCAR at noon on Saturday.

Mayfield’s suspension is the first for a driver in NASCAR’s top division, the Sprint Cup Series. Past suspensions have been handed down in the NASCAR Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.

The suspension comes just days after former NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Kevin Grubb was found dead in a Virginia hotel room from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Grubb, who competed in what was then the NASCAR Busch Series, was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR in 2006 after refusing to submit to a drug test. He had previously been suspended in 2004 for violating the substance abuse policy but was reinstated.

Previous drivers who have been suspended for violating the substance abuse policy have been reinstated, however Hunter laid out no timetable for any of the three to apply for reinstatement.

“We have a zero tolerance for violations of our substance abuse policy and we’ve made it very clear that we’re going to stick to that,” said Hunter. “The random testing program is working and I think that you will find that it is heartily endorsed by everyone in the garage.

“There’s just no place for substance abuse in our sport.”

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