Apparently, this whole Jeremy Mayfield soap opera isn’t going away anytime soon. The latest episode saw Mayfield in the infield at Lowe’s Saturday night for the Sprint Showdown, a violation of the terms surrounding his indefinite suspension. He was eventually escorted off the premises… but not before taking some more shots at the sport that banned him in the first place. A defiant Mayfield claimed he is considering legal action to override his suspension, and currently has no plans to go through the rehab process – a requirement in order for reinstatement to be considered. The most intriguing claim he made was that Dr. Black informed him that Claritin could have triggered the positive test, but has since backpedaled because Claritin is a sponsor in the sport. Yet despite the conjecture, Mayfield says he has no idea what he tested positive for – because he has yet to get the results. That’s a direct contradiction from NASCAR, as league spokesman Ramsey Poston says that the driver has been informed of exactly that on three separate occasions.
I wish we could get to the bottom of this, but there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight. Here we have a classic case of he said/she said, and with Mayfield being one of the sport’s most outspoken drivers and NASCAR rarely backing off of its decisions, don’t expect either side to budge quite yet.
Circle Bar breakdown
A solid run for Circle Bar Racing on paper in Friday’s 200-mile race at Lowe’s didn’t necessarily translate to harmony across the team after the race. Battling for the 11th position coming off turn 4 on the final lap, rookie James Buescher got into the door of teammate Rick Crawford and continued to shove him down the track, eventually knocking him into the grass at the stripe. Crawford was not happy with the phenom, offering a few choice words for the driver of the No. 10 who also participates in a monthly driver diary for Frontstretch.
At 19, it’s clear Buescher is an extremely talented driver who is still learning this whole NASCAR thing. Earlier this season, Crawford called him, “A combination of Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon,” and he’s 2-for-2 in ARCA starts and victories so far this season. Friday night, it looks like he simply made a mistake against the wrong driver… a teammate. The two will clear the air soon enough, and Buescher will continue to do exactly what he is in the Truck Series for… learn.
Sweet home Charlotte
One of the more popular debates during Saturday night’s Frontstretch live blog was the annual debate of whether or not the All-Star Race should be run at Charlotte. While I agree with the general consensus that with the exception of the final 10 laps, the combination of the 1.5-mile oval and the new car produced the same aerodynamic advantage that has seen the lead car check out from the field while in clean air, I’d have to say I don’t want a change. Could Bristol or Darlington produce consistently better racing? Maybe. But with such a demanding Cup Series schedule, this provides an opportunity for teams to spend two weeks near home before another eight week stretch on the road. Don’t you think these guys deserve a break? If there’s a problem with the racing, tweak the format – not the track.
What a difference 16 months makes
Co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, Gene Haas must have been on cloud nine this weekend at Lowe’s. Prior to his 16-month stint in prison for tax fraud, Haas’s race team was struggling to make the Top 35 in owner points; but what he saw in his first trip back to the track Saturday was a team emerging as a top-tier performer week in, week out. Haas saw firsthand the amazing transformation of what is now Stewart-Haas Racing – with help from Hendrick Motorsports – as both Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart competed for the win all night. Stewart eventually piloted the No. 14 car to victory lane, his first win since taking over as part-owner in the offseason.
As SHR progresses each and every week, expectations have now grown from race wins to championships. Not only is Stewart running well, but Newman is showcasing the talent that we saw back when the No. 12 Penske car was competitive. If both of these cars are not contenders next week for the Coke 600, I will be more than surprised. Heck, if both of these cars don’t make the Chase… I’ll be surprised.
Frontstretch LIVE BLOG comment of the race
Each week, I will further expand on some of the more interesting fan comments from our weekly Frontstretch LIVE Cup race blog. This is one that caught my eye from Saturday’s race:
“Just fans at the track wouldn’t be fair. I do go to Dover, but I wouldn’t be able to vote because the race there is next week.” – Newracefan on whether only fans who purchase race tickets should be allowed to vote in a driver at the All-Star Race.
The vast majority of viewers in our live blog were upset with the Joey Logano fan vote and immediately blamed it on the unlimited online voting. However, I could really care less as to how a driver is selected, because as long as fans are voting it will be a popularity contest and there will always be fans upset their driver is not voted in. The most efficient way is to have an online vote, but I suggest making it so that each person can only place one. But the problem is, even that system can be beaten….
P.S.: Don’t forget, our live blog pops up again this weekend! Check us out Sunday night for a special live blog for the Coca-Cola 600.
Notes to ponder
- Poole dedication: The deadline room in the Lowe’s Motor Speedway media center will be named in honor of the late David Poole. I can’t think of a better gesture to the family of the beat writer from the local Charlotte Observer.
- Follow the leader: At some point, is NASCAR going to do something about the leaders checking out in clean air? The result this week was very few green-flag passes for the lead until the final 10 laps.
- The most important race on the track is…: …the race off pit road. Because of the aforementioned benefit of clean air, the most crucial race in the closing laps are the speed and strategy calls of the over-the-wall crew.
- Malsam impresses: Truck Series rookie Tayler Malsam became the first driver this season to earn Rookie of the Race honors twice with his eighth-place finish at Lowe’s.
- Burnout competition: I know it’s for a good cause, but is there anything any more anticlimactic than the burnout competition? It’s by far the worst All-Star skills competition of any sport.
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