Cup drivers earn brownie points with NASCAR
Jeremy Mayfield didn’t bring a racecar to Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, which means he won’t be on the track Saturday night to compete in the Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup race. But he likely will return at some point now that a federal judge has granted a temporary injunction allowing Mayfield to race again after he was suspended on May 9 for failing a NASCAR drug test.
The news was met with both discomfort and disinterest in the NASCAR garage.
Mayfield had tested positive for methamphetamines, although he claims the test was faulty and he never took the drug. That doesn’t necessarily ease the mind of at least one driver who will have to race against him.
“I would say that if my car was starting next to his I would wonder about the first lap,’’ driver Ryan Newman said on Thursday at Daytona. “If I was in a position where I was racing him I would potentially question that judgment but I don’t know how to actually do that until that happens.’’
Newman wasn’t the only driver to question U.S. District Court Judge Graham Mullen’s ruling that the harm to Mayfield’s career outweighed the harm to NASCAR in allowing him to race. Although Mullen said Mayfield could be tested at will, driver Jeff Burton pointed out that NASCAR doesn’t use an instant drug test. So any test result would come after Mayfield was back on the track and competing.
“One thing that I disagree with the judge on is that my safety is important to me and if there’s an instant test available then I think the judge’s opinion is 100 percent right,’’ Burton said. “There is no instant test available.
“It’s a tough situation for anybody to make that decision because he potentially puts my safety in jeopardy with that decision. The other decision potentially puts Jeremy’s career in jeopardy, so what do you do? That’s almost not a right answer.’’
The Mayfield lawsuit apparently has led to changes in the procedure for testing drivers. Kasey Kahne said the process now takes longer with drivers having to verify every step of the procedure.
Veteran Mark Martin, like many drivers, said he wasn’t concerned with racing against Mayfield. But he is concerned with the judge’s decision that took control out of the hands of NASCAR.
“I’m comfortable with being on the racetrack with Jeremy Mayfield, 100 percent,’’ he said. “I think that somebody is wrong. Either Jeremy or NASCAR is wrong, and I don’t know which one, but whichever one is wrong is really hurting the other. I don’t know.
“I feel that NASCAR needs to have the authority to say whether or not that you drive. I don’t know anything about judges. I don’t know anything about laws and I don’t know anything else, but I do believe that NASCAR needs to have the authority to make that call.’’
Several drivers said they were confused by the proceedings; others said they weren’t following it that closely. At least one driver is unconcerned; Kyle Busch said he wouldn’t expect to spend much time racing around Mayfield.
“If he’s out there on the racetrack with me then it doesn’t bother me,’’ Busch said. “Normally, we’re ahead of him anyway.’’ Examiner.com