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NASCAR Notebook for February 4th

by Dave Grayson
Friday, February 04, 2011

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Jeremy Mayfield
During the course of the past few days we waited in anticipation for a supposed titillating tell all interview with former NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield only to discover that he had nothing to say. We were puzzled by a bizarre, million dollar, offer from an Indy Car official that doesn't seem to have any takers. We learned what the Ganassi slam is and then we marveled at the prospect of a former unemployed home developer who is now the newest NASCAR team owner. With those thoughts in mind let's begin with:

WHAT'S-UP with last Tuesday's live television interview with Jeremy Mayfield on the SPEED Channel's "Race Hub" program? The promos for this interview suggested that the embattled driver was "finally going to get to tell his side of the story." What we saw instead was a vague interview that offered nothing new. I truly felt sorry for "Race Hub" host Steve Byrnes who had to carefully navigate his way through an interview that was clearly going to be a waste of perfectly good television time.

The lengthy saga of Mayfield versus NASCAR began with the driver failing a mandatory drug test, back in May of 2009, that led to his indefinite suspension from the sport. It was later revealed that this test was positive for methamphetamine. However Mayfield claimed he had taken a doctor prescribed drug for an allergy condition with the over the counter medicine known as Claritin D and that combination produced a false positive. He filed suit against NASCAR and demanded his reinstatement. That action led to a lengthy series of court hearings that are still ongoing. Mayfield himself said on Tuesday that the latest round of court arguments could last as long as a year and a half.

One had the feeling that Mayfield had been carefully coached by attorneys to be extremely careful regarding comments on his legal issues with NASCAR. "I've got a lot things to say that I can't obviously because of the litigation," he said during the interview adding "I don't want to get into anymore trouble whatsoever by what I'm saying. It's just hard because, when you're in this situation, there's a lot of anger now and things could come out that wouldn't be good for either one of us. It's tough when you walk around everyday and you get the chance to finally tell your side of the story, there's so much more to it that would really enlighten a lot of things that you just can't tell."

WHAT'S-UP with that moment of murky confusion? That alone should have had Mayfield escorted to the men's room with a plastic cup.

When asked by Byrnes about the prospect of his future, Mayfield said he was excited about starting a new metal recycling business but offered no details. Regarding the prospect of returning to racing. Mayfield did mention the possibility of driving for the owner of a dirt car team but again offered no details. He also expressed an interest in driving for an Indy Car, as well as drag racing, if the conditions were right saying "I don't want to struggle anymore."

Perhaps Mayfield is saving all of the enlightening details for some future tell all book. Again, his appearance on the "Race Hub" last Tuesday was a vague interview that offered nothing new.

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Did Johnson's wife stop him from running the Indy 500, or did in fact Johnson chicken out because all NASCAR drivers who have attempted it previously fail miserable
THUMBS-UP to five time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson for placing his family first and declining a high dollar offer that would have had him driving in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600 on the same day. That offer came from Indy Car CEO Randy Bernard who offered some high profile NASCAR drivers $1 million for taking on both prestigious events plus a $20 million bonus to any driver who could win both of the races on the same day. This high dollar offer was reported to be part of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500.

Although he said there's a part of him that always wanted to drive the Indy 500, Johnson's decision to decline the offer was based on the time he would have to spend away from his wife and daughter during the month of May. Preparations for the Indy 500 alone takes approximately three weeks. That schedule would have been in addition to his NASCAR Sprint Cup commitments which includes stops at Darlington and Dover during the month of May as well as the All Star Race and the Coca Cola 600 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway.

By the way, another THUMBS-UP goes to Rick Hendrick, Johnson's team owner, for a great comment after learning his champion driver had turned down the Indy offer. Hendrick described Johnson's potential time away from family as a "deal breaker" and said "his wife's against it, and she's got a lot of stroke in that deal."

WHAT'S-UP with this Indy Car offer being made to begin with? Recent reports indicates that drivers Juan Pablo Montoya and Kasey Kahne have not responded to Bernard's double duty race day offer and driver Sam Hornish Jr has made it clear that he doesn't want to return to the Indy Car ranks.

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Talk about a way to start off a new year: THUMBS-UP to team owner Chip Ganassi who had the pleasure of watching his Grand American Rolex Series teams, with drivers Scott Pruett and Scott Dixon, finish one-two at the conclusion of 24 Hours of Daytona last weekend. Ganassi teams has now won four of the most prestigious motorsports events in the nation within a period of 12 months. That list includes the Daytona 500, the Indy 500, the Brickyard 500 and now the 24 Hours of Daytona. That accomplishment has been appropriately titled "The Ganassi Slam."

THUMBS-UP to NASCAR Sprint Cup team owner Kevin Buckler primary owner of TRG, The Racer's Group, who watched his team, led by driver Andy Lally, win the GT Class portion of the 24 hour race. Lally, an occasional visitor to the Sprint Cup Series, won the pole during qualifying but a technical glitch during post race inspection put the car at the back of the field. Making this win even more difficult was the fact that the TRG driver team ran the last 17 hours of the race without a working clutch.

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The final THUMBS-UP of the week goes to Joe Denette a long time native of Spotsylvania County-Virginia. Who's that you ask? Denette is the newest team owner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series under some very special circumstances.

In 2009 economics found Denette laid off from his long time job in the home development industry. But that all changed in May of that year when Denette won the Virginia Lottery Mega Millions worth $75.6 million. He opted for the lump sum payment of $47.8 million.

A long time NASCAR fan, Denette decided to create his own race team and enlisted the aid of Hermie Sadler, NASCAR driver-SPEED Channel reporter, to help him with the massive details. Denette Racing will begin its maiden voyage this year working out of a newly acquired shop in Huntersville-North Carolina. They have already made a very smart move by aligning themselves with Kevin Harvick Inc who will provide the new team with chassis and technical support. Another smart move was the recent signing of up and coming truck series driver Jason White who will be bringing his long time sponsor, Gun Brokers Dot Com, with him.

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