Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Matt McLaughlin · Thursday May 14, 2009
News broke shortly before last weekend’s Darlington race that owner/driver Jeremy Mayfield had tested positive for a banned substance after a random test conducted under NASCAR’s new drug program. Mayfield was the first driver to run afoul of that new testing program and, obviously, the news raised some eyebrows.
Let me go on record as supporting the new drug policy. While players in stick and ball sports generally harm only themselves and the rules of fairness when they take performance-enhancing concoctions or illegal drugs, in racing drivers are often running door-to-door with their competitors at high rates of speed. A driver who is in any way impaired could seriously injure or even kill another innocent driver with one simple mistake. And, as we saw recently at Talladega, even the fans are at risk after a particularly bad wreck.
Unlike back in my youth, we now know that impairment goes beyond the period when a driver is actually drinking or taking drugs. If a guy goes out and ties one on the night before or gets stoned, he might not be visibly impaired come race time — but his reaction times are still compromised, thus rendering him unfit to compete. (Or operate a vehicle on the road, for that matter.) The good old days of guys like Curtis Turner and Joe Weatherly partying until hours before a race are behind us. How different are things now? Buck Baker once admitted prior to a race on a hot afternoon it might be nice to enjoy some cold beer during the event. Thus, Baker recalled, he filled a “douche bag” with beer, put it inside his car, and rigged a hose so he could have a sip of beer whenever he chose. As it turned out, the constant vibration inside the race car rendered the beer too foamy to be fit for consumption, so Baker was only able to enjoy a few sips during the pace laps. One can only imagine how NASCAR and the fans would react now if we found out one of the drivers had rigged up a system so he could drink during a race…
NASCAR’s new drug policy, enacted this year, was borne off former Truck Series driver Aaron Fike’s admission he had used heroin even on days he raced. The old drug policy had been that if a driver appeared impaired, he could be asked to take a drug test. Fike slipped through the cracks on that one; needless to say, the new policy is better.
But the new policy is also imperfect. It needs to be fixed… and fixed right now, given that a driver, even one of Mayfield’s journeyman stature, has his entire career hanging in the balance. Mayfield says he applauds the new drug policy and that the only “drugs” he took were an over the counter allergy medication and a prescription allergy medication. I can vouch for something like that being possible. As an allergy sufferer myself, this seems to be one of the worst pollen seasons in recent memory — at least in these parts. At times, there’s a green fog of pollen you can see blowing across the rear fields here on a breezy afternoon. So far this year, I’ve taken more of my preferred over the counter allergy medicine than I did all of last year just to stay functional.
NASCAR won’t say what substance Mayfield took was discovered in the test. Nor will they even say what drugs are on their banned list — other than telling drivers they will be looking for steroids, speed, and recreational drugs. That’s not good enough. There needs to be a list of banned substances, so if a driver tests positive he can have his own independent test done in an attempt to prove he was clean. If, in fact, there are over the counter cold and allergy medicines or legal dietary supplements or energy drinks that will trigger a positive test, NASCAR participants need to know what they are so they can avoid them if at all possible. A list of banned prescription drugs should be a matter of public record, as well.
Now, most drivers are smart enough to know that if they’ve been prescribed “Oxycontin” for pain, they shouldn’t be racing. In fact, any medicine that states in the small print “Don’t operate a car or heavy machinery (especially at 185 miles per hour an inch off another guy’s rear bumper…)” should be banned during race weekends. But I think we can all recall many Olympic athletes who were banned from competing at events or stripped of their medals when the only “drugs” they took were prescription inhalers for their asthma they didn’t know contained banned substances (like tiny amounts of steroids.) The Olympic committee has since continually upgraded and made available to competitors and the media lists of banned substances, ones that include dietary supplements you or I could walk into a health food store and buy legally — if not wisely.
Wouldn’t it be ironic if the banned “substance” that NASCAR discovered was Claritin, an OTC allergy remedy that is a featured sponsor on Carl Edwards’ car? Likewise, I have to wonder if some of these new super energy drinks that are sponsors or co-sponsors of other entries might, in fact, be banned. Last summer, my buddy offered me one of those little vials of “energy” they sell at the counter of convenience stores to get my notoriously late sleeping butt going during a vacation. I ended up with such a case of the shakes, I decided I was unfit to operate a jetski and had chest pains bad enough that I almost went to the hospital. And that’s from someone who routinely downs 60 ounces of coffee a day… before noon.
Secondly, NASCAR needs to make public what substance it is they say that Mayfield or any other competitor tested positive for to earn their punishment. NASCAR might wish to cite privacy concerns — but that all goes out the window when a suspension is announced. At that point, the driver is publicly humiliated as is an intended part of the process. The wheels of justice might turn slower in MLB, but when Manny Ramirez was recently suspended, it was clearly stated what substances were found and how much of the stuff was found. Ramirez sheepishly admitted he had, in fact, ingested that chemical as part of a legal dietary supplement marketed nationally. He admitted his own ignorance in not reading the label or consulting his trainers because he, in fact, knew the substance was banned.
Editor’s Note: The U.S. Government also enacted recent privacy laws that make this an even tricker subject for NASCAR. View them here; as you can see, there are certain legal issues at play here the sport does need to contend with.
I’m not saying that Mayfield is innocent. Maybe he’s been caught red-handed. But Mayfield is innocent until proven guilty, and the fact NASCAR says he failed the test is not proof of guilt. If you or I are ticketed for speeding by an officer wielding a radar gun, we have our day in court to try to show that radar gun was calibrated incorrectly, used incorrectly, used by an untrained operator, or might have been clocking another car running in a lane beside us. If we can convince a judge or a jury of our peers that was the case, the mere fact we signed the ticket isn’t proof of guilt. As an aside, the presumption of innocence is under serious attack in places other than the halls of NASCAR. Here in Pennsylvania, our cars carry plates only in the rear. Red light cameras installed in the area show a picture of a car and plate rolling through a red light… but contain no image of the driver. Under current law, the registered owner of the vehicle is ticketed, and the cops say it’s up to that driver to show who was driving the car. Well under our Constitution, it’s up to the cops to prove who was driving the car — and I take that as a serious affront. Yeah, that’s my car, and it went through the red light. But given the presumption of innocence afforded me, you need to prove it was me at the wheel. Continuing along those lines, the ownership and possession of a handgun used in a felony, combined with forensic evidence that weapon was used to commit a crime, is not enough evidence to convict. Then, of course, we have the whole suspension of Habeas Corpus and the Patriot Act… but I’m not going into politics here.
Instead, my chief concern is reminding us all NASCAR’s track record in drug testing is less than perfect and, in one instance, was used to destroy the career of an innocent driver they didn’t care for with premeditation and malice. Even the media has its own list of mistakes. As recently as last year, Truck Series driver Ron Hornaday was accused in a story of using steroids. It seemed a slam dunk case, an aging athlete using a performance-enhancing drug to compete against younger men. Hang him! Only the steroids in question were a topical cream prescribed by a doctor to treat a somewhat serious medical condition, not a performance enhancer.
Then, we had the sad case of Tim Richmond. Richmond missed the start of the 1987 Cup season and clearly wasn’t well. Even when he did return, it was clear that something wasn’t right with his health. It all came to a head when Richmond overslept in his coach and almost missed qualifying at Michigan. There were rumors Tim was using drugs, including heroin and cocaine fueled by his partying lifestyle and connections to Hollywood. (And a good deal of jealousy about the company he kept.) Only Tim wasn’t on drugs… he was dying of AIDS. At that point, AIDS was commonly referred to as a “gay flu” or Divine punishment by an Old Testament God for needle drug users. At that point, few people realized that AIDS could be transmitted by good old heterosexual sex. To admit he had AIDS would have further fueled the rumors Tim was a drug addict (nobody with half a brain was going to think he was gay, given Tim’s taste for pretty women…and lots of them.)
After missing the last half of 1987, Tim Richmond announced he was going to try to compete in the 1988 Busch Clash, a relatively short race that would give him a chance to access his abilities to compete in longer events. He had a car lined up and ready to go, as well as a sponsor to support his effort. But before allowing a return to competition, NASCAR decided to make Richmond take a drug test. Well aware that finding AZT in his blood would reveal his secret, Tim had stopped taking it a month before the race weekend. Having been threatened with drug tests before, that same day he provided a sample to an independent lab before his NASCAR-mandated pee test.
NASCAR announced Tim had failed his drug test. Once again, they wouldn’t say what substance they had found… but Tim Richmond was banned from the sport “indefinitely.” Tim was humiliated and dishonored. And naturally, he was enraged. Faced with the evidence from the independent lab, NASCAR was forced to admit later the “banned substance” found in Tim’s urine was an over the counter cold remedy.
Let me address an issue here before it is raised again. Some have defended NASCAR’s big lie, claiming they knew Tim had AIDS. If Tim was in a bad wreck and was bleeding heavily, his infected blood could have put track safety personnel at risk, the logic goes. Sorry. EMTs and police officers in our country are routinely called to traffic accidents, shootings, and stabbings involving individuals infected with AIDS. They take proper precautions. They glove up. They wash up afterwards. We as a society can not banish those with AIDS to some modern day leper colonies because we fear infection.
Anyway, Tim sued NASCAR. Their guilt was clearly evident, and he should have won millions. But NASCAR got a friendly judge to agree that as part of the suit, Tim would have to submit his medical records. To do so would have revealed Tim was dying of AIDS; he’d have been ostracized, and likely evicted from his home. An out of court settlement was reached, and Tim never raced again.
The parallels here make me uneasy. Mayfield says he took only over the counter medicines and others prescribed to him by a doctor. NASCAR won’t say what they claim they found. Maybe NASCAR can make their case and Mayfield deserves to be suspended. But until presented with compelling evidence that shows me without a doubt Mayfield knowingly violated the sport’s drug policy, I am offering him the presumption of innocence. I didn’t confer that right on him; the Constitution does, and way too many men and women have died defending those inalienable rights.
This might just become a test case that validates or invalidates NASCAR’s drug policy. Regardless, I hope they conduct themselves with honor and fairness this time. Because the only thing worse than no drug policy is an unfair drug one that destroys the careers and lives of the innocent. And full transparency is what is called for right now to prove NASCAR isn’t railroading another innocent victim.
©2000 - 2008 Matt McLaughlin and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Yet again, NASCAR itself has broken rules 12-4-a, actions detrimental to stock car racing.
I personally don’t like Mayfield. But to not even publish a list of what substances are banned? That is pretty insane. Even blood pressure medicine says not to operate heavy machinery until you know how it will effect you. Give him a chance to clear himself before ejecting him from the sport.
Way too many over the counter drugs these days that can have just about anything in them. I was a “victim” of using Met-RX back in the days it had a semi-legal form of steroids in it. Worked great too. :) But I would have at least liked to have known it was in there. I do have some medical problems that could possibly be related, but no way to prove it.
I could go on for hours about “drugs” and the legality of them. There isn’t anything stopping these guys driving hungover as hell. Someone has a “stomach bug” or the “flu” every week. But my point is that alcohol is the only “drug” that can be tested if it is currently effecting you. Who cares if a driving was smoking pot on a Monday night? But test him a week later and he still tests positive, and there currently isn’t a way around this… and I don’t think anyone is trying to find one.
Maybe Kyle Bush’s amazing abilities all have to do with those NOS Energy drinks. You always see him pounding one. And as Wallace’s 5 Hour Energy drink states, no crashes. Yeah, those others do cause you to crash. So should caffeine and sugar be banned too?
Yeah, I want the drivers to be sober on the track. Lives are at stake. But then should a driver be allowed to drive when he is sick? Isn’t that a form of impairment? Especially when it is to the point that they have a backup driver ready?
Some common sense needs to be used. …and NASCAR not being so secret about everything.
I agree with most of what you say, Matt, but I think it’s interesting that no one questioned the validity of the policy or the tests until a driver got nailed. What about when about half a dozen crew members lost their jobs? Does it have to be a driver for us to care about whether he’s been falsely accused?
A. Nascar isn’t the government so the legal “Innocent until proven guilty” principle isn’t relevant. Nascar, a private business, has the absolute right to issue or refuse credentials for anyone for any reason or no reason.
B. Allowing Mayfield to practice and attempt to qualify while they did the retest on the B sample WAS giving him the benefit of the doubt. The possibility of a false positive is what the B sample is for.
C. As Kenny Wallace said on Race Day, drivers and their doctors can discuss medications and drivers routinely inform Nascar about every medication and supplement they take so its on record just in case.
Biffle said that he didn’t get timely information about a painkiller recently — so he did the smart thing and didn’t take it. Mayfield could have made the same choice.
D. MANY common OTC meds can impair function. Due to a disability, I don’t even have a drivers’ liscence, but if I took a Benedryl and tried to drive it would be entirely just to jail me for putting others at risk that way.
Its not Nascar’s job to read the fine print on the medicine bottle for the drivers — they’re adults with functioning brains.
E. The weird obsession some fans have with Tim Richmond is completely irrelevant to the current situation. The only difference between Tim Richmond and Shane Hmiel is that Shane got caught before his disastrous life-choices killed him.
If you applied common sense, instead of fan-fanaticism and knee-jerk, anti-Nascar bias, you’d see that this strict policy protects drivers from the impulse to throw their career and life away because they can’t pretend that they won’t get caught.
F. Do a little research on that stack of forms you signed at your doctor’s office and learn what “medical privacy” means. Its not just a suggestion, its Federal Law.
Nascar CANNOT release the specifics about a failed drug test even if they wanted to.
None of us know what happened here. NASCAR for some reason is very secretive about its drug policy. This isn’t a medical privacy issue, MB, it is a workplace issue. Other sports reveal what a participant has taken that caused the positive results. Drug tests fail about 10% of the time and they aren’t reliable when it comes to combinations of OVTC drugs as well as some foods. Until NASCAR is more public with its drug testing there will always be questions like this. I agree, Matt, we need much more information.
MB, one note on your response…nascrap CAN release the results of Mayfield’s drug test WITH HIS PERMISSION. If he failed to give his permission, then it is safe to assume that he is guilty since a negative test would not have hurt him.
The single biggest problem here (with the Mayfield situation) is THE TOTAL LACK OF NA$CRAP CREDIBILITY!
Over the years NA$CRAP has proven time and time again they cannot consistently do ANYTHING!
EVERY move NA$CRAP makes is suspect as to intent and purpose!
If this organizing body, led by that alcoholic Brian France by the way, EVER had shown ANY consistencies in applying their rule book (oh, one does really exist? WOW! was it written in pencil with eraser attached?), then we would not be having these discussions on Mayfield being guilty or not!
CREDIBILITY here is the issue, and not credibility on Jeremy’s part!
Johnboy, I suggest you rewind there. Since there’s no appeal process either, Mayfield is almost certain to have to resort to a lawsuit, so there are legal repercussions to him making statements at this time. You can bet that his press release and his declining interviews is absolutely being dictated by his lawyers.
Gordon, you’re quite wrong. There have been quite a few news articles and blog posts over the last few months that criticised the lack of a list of banned substances. Go back and check out last September when it was first announced, and again in mid-February after the preseason drivers meeting.
That “the driver is publicly humiliated as is an intended part of the process” is completely your opinion, unless Brian France has taken you into his confidence (fat chance). Just stating that a driver has been suspended for failing a drug test is not only embarrassing enough for the driver, he has to deal with the business ramifications of the suspension as well, and I’m betting no sponsor short of High Times magazine wants to be associated with a drug abuser.
I love this website and the commentary is always interesting and enlightening, but this obsession that the Frontstretch writers seem to have with needing to publicize the specific banned substance Mayfield tested positive for seems a bit tabloid-ish. While People magazine may be read by more people than any Frontstretch column, it can usually be found in the bathroom next to the toilet.
In 1990, The New York Times reported that Dr. Forest Tennant, who was at that time the National Football League’s drug adviser, “falsified drug tests” that ultimately helped shorten Tim Richmond’s NASCAR career. Washington television station WJLA-TV, in early 1990, reported that sealed court documents and interviews showed Tennant and NASCAR used “allegedly false drug-test results in 1988 to bar Richmond from racing”. Reporter Roberta Baskin stated that NASCAR had targeted Richmond, requesting that Tennant establish a substance-abuse policy with Richmond in mind. “A series of drug tests and falsely reported positive results shortly before the 1988 Daytona 500 kept Richmond from driving in what was to have been his last big race. . .”, the report said. While neither Tennant nor NASCAR supplied an official response at the time, NASCAR did confirm that they were seeking to replace Tennant
FOLLOW THE MONEY! With Claritin being the rumoured OTC drug that caused Mayfield’s failed test, NA$CRAP WILL NEVER ADMIT that it was. With Claritin being a NA$CRAP $pon$er, NA$CRAP will do everything it can to protect those $pon$orShip $$$. Carl Edwards will be permitted to continue using Claritin Clear to remain ALERT and FOCUSED ON and OFF THE RACETRACK. Checkout http://www.prnewswire.com/mnr/claritin/31691/. This whole thing SMELLS big time. Mayfield should get the best lawyer available and force the issue. Can you say “Out of court settlement”?
We all know how heavy handed NASCAR can be. Without publicly posting the list of drugs and the specific findings of any failed tests, they can, as they always like to, play god. Let’s say a driver starts trying to form a union, which we all know NASCAR vehemently opposes, how easy would it be to suspend a driver for a bogus drug test failure.
We have all seen in the past that if a person bucks NASCAR’s will, they can easily be blacklisted from the sport. To me the way this drug testing is set up just gives NASCAR another way to keep everyone under their thumb.I believe testing is necessary but I am suspicious of NASCAR even when everything is spelled out on paper. To me this is just another tool they have to control their monopoly.
One other point. People say get a lawyer and take them to court and that is a legitimate recourse however, a driver could watch years of their career go by while the case meandered it’s way through the legal process. In the end the driver may win but so what, they’ve lost their career in the meantime.
Good article Matt! I agre Bill B. A lawsuit would be a last resort for Mayfield as it would be a certain end to his career.
M.B. , using a quote from Kenny Wallace to bolster your claim , shows you’re stretching pretty far out there to make your case .Kenny Wallace ??? OMG .
All NASCAR has to say is it wasn’t pseudoephedrine sulfate which is the active ingredient in Claritan-D, the supposed OTC drug used. They said it wasn’t alcohol so they could say it wasn’t pseudoephedrine sulfate (legally speaking). If it’s not this OTC that pumps so much money into NASCAR, then just say it and get over all of the speculation. If it is, that’s why you don’t here word one from NASCAR.
now now matt…..back when tim was sick, a standard of care was still being established for dealing with hiv positive individuals. i know cause my brother is Lt with fire dept and back in the 80’s he was exposed to the virus. they were only required to single glove. he slipped person od’ing threw up, my bro had abrasion on his hand from slipping, and then 6 mos of antiviral cocktails and mental stress of having been exposed, plus the exposure to his family.
all i know is i take an incredible amount of med for allergies and asthma. if for some reason i take claritin, i stop taking my prescribed allergy medication as it would be way too much crap in my system. only time i take clartin d is when my ears are so plugged my 180 mg of allegra can’t handle it. i vividly remember days in the 70’s of taking 3-4 cold tablets on a friday night to beat the cold out of me. boy was i foggy and buzzed for a few days. now, if i don’t have a script, i don’t use it. even have to watch vitamins and supplements too. and for those “energy” drinks…well anyone with any moderate blood pressure fluctuations, that will send you into hyper city. i don’t know how these kids chug red bull morning noon and night. just a sip of rooster booster one day, and it was diluted in ice, had me shaking for 12 hrs. and i always said that kenny wallace used a bit too much stacker 2/3 when they were his sponsor. i often wonder about stephen wallace.
we all know na$car will do whatever they want to do. it’s their game, if you don’t like the changing and interpretation of the rules, take your car and go somewhere else, and good luck as they’re the big money monopoly.
A VERY, VERY, BIG THANK YOU for your wonderful writing on how this idiot organization called NA$CRAP has handled these situations in the past!
We could not believe them in the past, we should not believe them now! In fact the credibility of NA$CRAP has deteriorated dramatically in the past years!
How sad this is!
What once was a Sunday of joy and excitement, has turned into a Sunday of comedy’s, and (probably) now lies once again.
Again a big thanks for a job well done!
It must be nice to have all the answers all the time. But for all us unenlightened goof offs who don’t know our tail from a hole in the ground, right on Matt. This sight is about provoking thought, not abusing someone, other than France and Co., and is not scientific by any means. We are not lawyers, we are working people who until recently enjoyed racing as a pasttime. As for Tim Richmond, he has been dead for over 20 years, please, for the Love of God, let him rest in peace. I very seriously doubt Mayfield had Claratin in his system, but if he did, we will never know. NISNADS is not about to mess with a sponsor, unless it somehow competes with Sprint or whatever its current weekly branding is.
If you read some of these people, we should all drink the Kool-Aid, love Kyle Busch, and give Brian France a big old sloppy Kiss. I will do all but three of those things.
Tim Richmond is very relevant because he was the main reason NASCAR is getting questioned on the Mayfield issue in my opinion. Same family just the third generation. NASCAR blew its credibility in the Richmond fiasco and I think the media and fans have every right to ask questions of NASCAR and seeing as how “the fans” are so important to NASCAR or more like the fans money is important. NASCAR has to be more open on this issue. I don’t like France’s statement that if we put out a list of drugs then there’s no latitude. Um, jackass, this is not your rulebook, it’s a list of banned substances. You better make damned sure someone is without a shadow of a doubt positive or you just killed a guy’s career unjustly… again.
Also, Dr. Black just needs to quit talking. The more he says the more credibility he loses. I guess he has the only drug lab in the entire world that has never made an error on a test. How this lab in Tennessee has so much more sophistication than labs in France (Tour de France) England (Premier League) Switzerland (Olympics) or Japan is beyond me.
But drivers are “independent contractors” so in effect NASCAR can and does what the hell it wants.
Pot is now a prescription drug… in California. Maybe Jeremy will petition NASCAR to let him drive at Auto Club Speedway and Sonoma since he would be legal in that state… if that’s his drug of choice. Haha!