The Frontstretch: Did You Notice?... The Real Problem With Kyle Busch, The Murkiness Of Meth, And Silly Season Revisited by Thomas Bowles -- Wednesday June 10, 2009

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Did You Notice? … That in between all the controversy and opinions surrounding Kyle Busch and his guitar smashing, the No. 18 Cup team is in very real danger of not even making the Chase? Before we get to his antics (and don’t worry, I’m not going to comment too much as 1,500 people have already) let’s examine his dropoff in performance. Through 14 races this season, Busch has 353 points less than at this point in 2008, easily the worst dropoff of any full-time driver in this category. He’s currently ninth in the Chase standings, a whopping 312 behind Tony Stewart and just 53 ahead of Mark Martin in 13th place.

Those stats beg the question: What’s going on? More than ever this season, it’s been feast or famine for Busch at the Cup level. He has more finishes outside the top 20 (six) than he has inside the top 10 (five). Only teammate Denny Hamlin has fewer top 10s and is currently qualified to make the Chase. And while Busch leads the circuit in wins (three) and laps led (789), he’s struggled mightily in the other five races where he’s led laps but did not end up in Victory Lane. In those events, he’s run sixth, 18th, 25th, 34th, and 41st.


Of course, those numbers don’t fully answer the question as to what’s happening with the No. 18. It can’t be Toyota; heck, even Michael Waltrip Racing is now competitive with their Camrys. It can’t be the engines; Joe Gibbs is churning out more horsepower than ever before. And it’s not crew chief Steve Addington, who’s done a masterful job of managing what’s become an increasingly tempestuous personality.

To me, the problem with Busch’s Cup ride revolves around two things. Number one, I think we’re seeing with Tony Stewart’s success on the ownership side that he was more of a leader at JGR than we ever thought. And while Stewart’s charisma is making him the surprise story of the year, his disappearance from the JGR roster has left a gaping hole in terms of leadership in the Gibbs camp. Seniority now falls to … gulp … Denny Hamlin, who’s badly in need of a confidence boost and some sports psychology himself – let alone trying to set an example for his other two teammates. Of course, rookie Joey Logano isn’t going to bring the organization together at 19, either… leaving the role to fall towards JGR’s most successful remaining driver.

But as Spiderman was once told, with great power comes great responsibility … and Busch proved Saturday night he’s far from being responsible. Not only did he take a beautiful trophy after the race and smash it, but he then had the audacity to lie to the national media and say he’d asked permission to do so. Regardless of whether you thought the smashing was cool, you can hardly say a big white lie makes you a leader of men.

And just the mention of that trophy brings me to my second point … Busch’s relentless pursuit of victories in the Nationwide and Truck Series. As I said with Kevin Harvick earlier this season, it’s one thing to dabble elsewhere when your Cup program is in good working order. But explain this one to me again: Busch is one bad race from being knocked from the top 12, yet he’s going to spread himself thin by running races in three series in a 48-hour stretch this weekend? It just makes no sense to run for a championship in a series equivalent to AAA baseball when your success in the majors is clearly on the line.

Heading into this summer stretch, it’s a critical juncture for JGR. Hamlin has slid to 12th in the standings and could easily miss the Chase, while Logano is still getting himself up to speed at the sport’s top level. The team could really use a unified voice, someone capable of bringing the team together and righting the ship before it’s too late.

Instead, I’m beginning to fear this could be a year Kyle learns a lesson and accidentally sinks it.

Did You Notice? … Jeremy Mayfield’s “abusive” substance has finally been revealed? The fact it was methamphetamine may be news to the fan base, but for those in the media I can tell you it’s been a well-known fact for weeks. As soon as the Monday following the positive test, I can tell you that at least four sources had contacted FS and already led us in that direction. So, why aren’t you hearing about this stuff before now? Simple: you need to dot your i’s and cross your t’s when you’re dealing with something as serious as meth. When it is someone’s personal and professional life you’re playing with, you just absolutely, positively cannot be wrong … so we waited. And waited. And waited… eventually, the truth came out and we were right. But I’m happy we didn’t take that chance earlier.

Mayfield’s pit stall at Atlanta in March resembled an auction block… and that’s exactly where the No. 41 team may end up unless a miracle occurs in the next few weeks.

Anyways, with that said the revelation of methamphetamine makes a career comeback by Mayfield all but impossible at this point. Even if he’s cleared of all wrongdoing, it’s going to be incredibly difficult to convince a sponsor to spend millions on a man who was at the very least accused of a false positive on such a dangerous drug. And to make matters worse, several sources have confirmed to me that Mayfield Motorsports, Inc., is in some serious financial trouble. So, whether the No. 41 is sold as the full package or simply auctioned off as a last resort, Mayfield’s court battle now gains greater importance – as it’ll likely be his only racing income for the foreseeable future. That means this war has no choice but to be firing bullets back and forth for months to come … long after we’ll have grown tired and weary of seeing both sides fight in the first place.

Did You Notice? … Speaking of Busch, he and Carl Edwards were the only Cup drivers trying to double dip in Nationwide this weekend? It was a positive sign for a series that is quietly reestablishing itself (even though Busch and Edwards finished first and third, respectively). Here’s a stat that may surprise you: out of the Cup, Nationwide, and Truck Series last weekend, Nationwide tied for the least number of start and parkers (five) – and that was at a standalone race. That’s ‘cause the series is the perfect situation for a new prospective owner, as it only takes five million or less to start a team as opposed to the $20 or $25 million to sponsor a top-level Cup operation.

With that in mind, you wonder what some of these underdog Cup owners must be feeling after watching their dreams of competitiveness slip away. Right now, of the teams outside the top 35, Scott Speed’s Team Red Bull is the only one guaranteed not to start and park each weekend. Prism Motorsports, Phoenix Racing, TRG Motorsports, Gunselman Motorsports, Tommy Baldwin, NEMCO … the list goes on and on of men with big dreams whose hopes were dashed by the widening gap between rich and poor. In the past, they might be able to turn around their inventory and move to a lower series where they might not just be able to qualify … but actually race. But sadly, the Car of Tomorrow makes changing to the Nationwide Series an impossibility … and falling outside the top 35 leaves their program with little protection or value as it all falls apart. Not exactly the best of scenarios to convince new ownership to join in …

Did You Notice? … Some fun with numbers? Here’s some interesting Silly Season comparisons through 14 races … as you can see, there’s been very few moves where both sides have wound up better off:

  • David Reutimann has as many wins with new sponsor Aaron’s as David Ragan has top 10 finishes with old sponsor UPS (one).
  • Tony Stewart has more top 10 finishes (10) for Stewart-Haas Racing than his two former teammates combined at Joe Gibbs (Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin have a total of nine). And as for a Stewart-Logano comparison … let’s not go there. It’s like comparing a little league pitcher who’s supposed to be as good as Johan Santana to Johan Santana himself.
  • Ryan Newman has more top 5 finishes (five) with the No. 39 of Stewart-Haas Racing than David Stremme has finishes on the lead lap (three).
  • Mark Martin has as many wins with the No. 5 of Hendrick Motorsports as Casey Mears has top 10 finishes (two) with the No. 07 at Richard Childress Racing.
  • A.J. Allmendinger has 291 points more with Richard Petty Motorsports than Scott Speed has with Team Red Bull – and one less DNQ.
  • Paul Menard is one of two drivers to run every race without a top 10 finish in the No. 98 Ford of Yates Racing. At this time last year, Travis Kvapil was well inside the top 20 in points with two top 10 finishes.

I think that’s good for now. It just goes to show that every Silly Season, teams and drivers will roll the dice and gamble – but most of the time, there’s only one winner.

Did You Notice? … Richard Petty Motorsports is partnering with a Toyota operation for its Nationwide Series program? Suuuure, Dodge is going to be a part of NASCAR in 2010. Keep telling yourselves that.

Contact Tom Bowles

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


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06/10/2009 05:36 AM

I personally don’t care for Jeremy Mayfield, but if he was in fact taking prescription Adderall for his ADHD, while also taking Claritin-D, I find it posible that a false positive for crystal meth is highly likely. If you don’t know, Claritin-D is not an OTC drug. You don’t need a prescription, but you do have to show ID because it contains psuedoephedrine. With which any college level lab student can turn into crystal meth.

So “the surprise” that the drug he tested positive for was crystal meth was zero surprise for anybody that knows anything about Claritin-D… or the many other sinus medications that are now behind the counter, and are the ones that keep you from getting drowsy. They are “uppers”.

Adderall falls into the same category, except it does require a prescription. But it too is not far off from being as potent as crystal meth… and even is abused for its crystal meth like qualities.

Now combine these two drugs together… one that he takes daily, and one he took because his sinuses were bothering him… never stopping to think maybe they shouldn’t be taken together. And maybe they can be safely taken together, I don’t know. But what I do know is that it sounds like a very easy case for a false positive for crystal meth.

Besides, crystal meth is the poor man’s cocaine. Mayfield isn’t a top dog money maker, but I find it kind of hard to believe that he would be taking “low class” drugs. He might as well been sniffing paint fumes out of a paper bag while he was at it too.

Personally, I think NASCAR just had it out for him… and Carl Long.

06/10/2009 08:15 AM

Hey Fred, thanks for the insight re: crystal meth, or whatever it might be called. I am still in Mayfields corner
on this one, definitely something “fishy” in this whole scene.

As you say, the whole drug thing has many avenues it can take, and also be called!

And by “manipulating” the verbage used, NA$CRAP can RUIN ANY person they choose to!

06/10/2009 08:40 AM

Busch and Dick…kind of go together…

Mike in Floyd Va
06/10/2009 11:09 AM

Adderall gives a false positive for meth. The fact that it in itself uses several types of amphetamine in it will also show up. The Claritin-D also shows up a false positive for meth.

Since NASCAR jumped the gun on their drug program anyways and went about it in a half-buttocked manner, Mayfield could very well become a part owner of NASCAR.

Doug in Washington (State)
06/10/2009 01:31 PM

Scott Speed has 2 more DNQs than Allmendinger… he just managed to run one of those races (Darlington) in Joe Nemechek’s car.

06/10/2009 01:46 PM

I’ve also heard meth called hillbilly heroin. Too bad for Mayfield as it seems to be just one more bad choice on a very long list of bad choices made by him.

06/10/2009 02:13 PM

Actually, oxycontin is hillybilly heroin. Anyways, I feel that if there is going to be a lifetime suspension, then the risk of a false positive must be ZERO.

Robert Eastman
06/10/2009 03:11 PM

It’s fascinating that Jeremy Mayfield believes he can pretty much do whatever he wants anytime he wants, (like throw his former car owners under the bus, thumb his nose at NASCAR’s rules) and then “play the victim.” All the drivers interviewed, have indicated that they keep NASCAR informed regarding all medications taken, including prescriptions and OTC. There has been no report that Jeremy even bothered to tell NASCAR he was taking a prescription (before the test). It is the least he can do and it is required. Many drugs warn against the dangers of taking them and then operating power equipment. Hey Jeremy, 200 MPH race cars probably fall into that category! Daaah…
Anyone that willing and regularly jeopardizes their own career and the lives of others has grave mental health issues! It seems that Mr. Mayfield is more addicted to the limelight, than he is to racing or drugs. He and Kyle Busch can compete for the “Britney Spears of NASCAR” award!

06/10/2009 04:44 PM

Since I’ve mentioned the Adderall/Cariton D meth-like connection when this whole Mayfield story came to the public consciousness, I feel sorta vindicated that other people are almost echoing my words verbatim…


All that aside, here’s why I think Mayfield will be vindicated in Court, it’s gonna go something like this:

Lawyer: “Nascar did you make your drivers aware of the banned subtances in your drug policy?”

Nascar: “Ummm…no. We’re Nascar we do whatever the hell we want. We did mention that we test for drugs, but we didn’t say what the banned substances are…”

Lawyer: “I see. So, tell us again how a driver is supposed know which legal drugs he’s NOT supposed to do or risk suspension, fines, etc?”

Nascar: “Well, he can’t know—we sorta make it up (like other rules we have) as we go along…But we do tell our drivers to tell our drug czar what drugs he’s taking just in case we need to make a point and show how powerful we are…”

Lawyer: “Ummm…okay, you’re control freaks and like to put the fear of God in people…Okay we get that…So, tell us again how a driver can violate a policy that has no parameters?”

Nascar: “They can’t—that’s the point…”

Lawyer: “Judge?”

Judge: “Case dismissed. Nascar you now our Mr Mayfield a brickload of money for loss of income, reputation, etc…Who do you think you are anyway?”

Nascar: “We’re Nascar, we do whatever the hell we want AND we’ll going to appeal this to own puppet appellate board and get this bogus decision overturned…And Judge? You’re banned from coming to our events…for life or $200,000 fine, which suits our fancy.”

And that’s why Nascar will lose in Court—can’t have a policy without telling drivers what the details of that policy are…It may work for them inside Nascar, but in the real world their “law” don’t mean squat.

06/10/2009 05:14 PM

It does not matter if the Adderall and Claritin-D combined to read a false positive for meth or not. NASCAR is going to stand their ground on this issue. After all, it their show, they make the rules and enforce them as they see fit.

Mayfield has been a loose cannon in Cup for years. Just ask Ray Evernham, Bill Davis, Joe Custer and Roger Penske.

As for the legal aspects, NASCAR has an top-fight legal team who has been undefeated in protecting their clients.

06/10/2009 05:16 PM

I have never been a Mayfield fan but right now I’m in his corner until nascar can prove that he was abusing recreational drugs not just taking his prescribed drugs. Robert, I believe earlier this year Greg Biffle was hurt and elected not to take his prescription drugs because he could not find out from nascar if they were a banned substance. As for Kyle he had a great shot at the win at Lowes if not for the rain.

06/10/2009 05:53 PM

J.T. Top flight legal team undefeated. Really? Guess the explains all those discrimination/sexual harassment lawsuits they’ve “won.”

This ain’t the NC legal system anymore, the Fed Court won’t be in awe of Nascar like the locals are.

Big Henry
06/10/2009 06:16 PM

JJ, that was a good possible transcript of the possible goings on at trial. NASCAR won’t win this one for that exact reason. Just ask the woman who sued for discrimination. They’re going to find themselves owing Mayfield 10X what they paid to her….

Richard in N.C.
06/10/2009 06:29 PM

In NASCAR’s response filed in federal court it says that team owners were provided at least 1 memo, maybe 2, before the season began of the specific substances they had to have their team members tested for before the season began. Also the NASCAR drug policy provides that prohibited substances include, but are not limited to, illegal drugs- which leaves no question about meth being prohibited. As to NASCAR’s lawyers, I can’t be absolutely sure, but I believe they have the firm involved that represented Al Gore in the Supreme Court in 2001, a real heavy hitter.

06/10/2009 07:43 PM

Richard, if Nascar’s lawyer are the same ones who represented Gore then that’s not such a bad thing. I mean, as I recall, they one the day, didn’t they? Ummm. no, they didn’t. And the guy Mayfield has ain’t exactly a mail order lawyer.

06/10/2009 08:20 PM

Wow! a good lively civil discussion, you don’t see that too often on the internet. My hat is off to you all both pro and con. Very refreshing.

06/10/2009 08:49 PM

“Touche”, JJ! Yep, they did settle out of court on the sexual harassment case.

That being said, NASCAR is standing on much firmer ground in this case. Besides, I’m certain that the stick and ball sports (who also have drug testing policies) will come to NASCAR’s aid.

The big guys stick together!

06/10/2009 10:48 PM

If Mayfield is indeed ADHD/ADD this is something he has had since childhood. It doesn’t just pop-up. If diagnosed & monitored correctly he should have testing results & monthly blood work results in his possession. ADHD/ADD medicine can damage the vital organs so the monthly visits are necessary to keep track of changes in the blood. The records should clear the air.

Richard in N.C.
06/10/2009 11:08 PM

Yes, Boies lost Gore’s case, but you don’t get picked to argue a case like the Florida recount before the Supreme Court unless you’re really good and I believe Boies was also one of the lead attorneys who handled the suit against Microsoft and won many millions. Also I believe Mayfield had just been diagnosed with ADD and began taking Adderall in March, 2009, which he did not disclose to NASCAR or Aegis until his failed drug test. There is a lot of stuff in the court filings that has not been reported in the press.

06/10/2009 11:13 PM

Was KB tested for drugs following his Sat. behavior, from the time he got off his helicopter to his smashing the trophy…? I asked the same question after he deliberately wrecked Colin Braun, the race leader, and Brian Scott during the Charlotte truck race.
PS I found these comments in regard to Mayfield as a way to settle the question of his innocence.

o From: David Newton 6/10/09
o The Lesson Here? “Don’t Do Stupid Stuff”.
zOMGFAVRE (6/10/2009 at 7:30 PM)
Report Violation
Jon, I agree with the hair follicle. I’ve been wondering this entire time why he hasn’t taken a sample to another testing agency to see if they find anything.
Quote from Marty Smith’s article/interview in the Charlotte infield:
“Mayfield got more animated with each passing question, and at one point Shana tried to calm him down. He kept going. He denied taking any illegal drugs and even pinched a bunch of his hair, mentioning that a hair sample would date back before Richmond.”
I don’t know why that hasn’t been done yet.
jon_jonis_HERE (6/10/2009 at 7:04 PM)
Report Violation
dukess2 Claritin D-Pseudoephedrine, Adderall amphetamines, Meth- methamphetamines. They all are tested for individually. Both drugs are stimulants of the central nervous system, just like MDMA, commonly known as Ecstasy. But amphetamine is known technically as methylated phenylethylamine, while methamphetamine is known as double methylated phenylethylamine. The second methylation (to make up a word) changes the compound’s interaction with the body. This is not NASCAR going to the corner store asking the pharmacist for a pee cup to do their own test. This lab does this for their lively hood, I doubt they are going to just go out there and randomly select a cup to contaminate with Methamphetamines. If that were the case that is why there is a sample B which also tested positive for the 3 for mentioned substances. I have many problems with Mr Methfield I mean Mayfield, if this was myself and my career and name were on the line. I would provide a hair follicle (which shows any drug use up to a 6 month period) and blood sample to test, to prove I was not on said substance!


Contact Tom Bowles

Recent articles from Tom Bowles:

Did You Notice? ... Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
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Did You Notice? ... Toyota Trouble, Limping Into Action And Testing The Waters
Did You Notice? ... Keep On Asking, And You Will Receive A Qualifying Sigh Of Relief

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