A few weeks ago, I penned a column that basically said Aaron Fike’s admission of doing heroin on race days was tantamount to holding a royal flush when it came to forcing NASCAR’s hand on reexamining its drug testing policy. Backing Fike’s play was Tony Stewart and former Fike boss, Kevin Harvick, both of which said that they have never been tested for drugs since they began their NASCAR careers. Well, this week the spot responded in their typical fashion, stating that while they do keep an eye on other professional sports’ drug testing policies, by and large, their system gave them more power and had certainly been serving them quite well, thank you very much.
Recent shocking revelations that former Craftsman Truck and Nationwide Series driver Aaron Fike not only concealed a painkiller addiction from NASCAR officials, but competed in CTS events after using heroin on race day has renewed criticism of the sanctioning body’s present drug testing policies. At the moment, NASCAR does not have a random drug screening policy like other major sports; instead, they maintain the right to test under the broadly worded “reasonable suspicion” edict in their rulebook. This position gives them almost an unfettered right to test anyone at their discretion participating in a NASCAR-sanctioned event. Additionally, team owners are free to test drivers and crew members either randomly, or on a basis of reasonable cause. This results in two layers of detecting possible problems; but for some, that just isn’t enough. That’s a shame… because it should be.
Saturday’s race came down to a fuel mileage gamble, with a crew chief begging his driver to slow down for the win. Is fuel mileage racing good for the sport — or should NASCAR be looking for the invisible debris instead?
The Key Moment: As Jimmie Johnson came off of turn 4 on the final lap, he had enough of a lead he could have turned off the car and pushed it across the start finish line.
1. Longtime Gone – The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series has become a favorite of many race fans, due to its highly competitive fields and close championship battles. The racing that the series provides has been likened to “old school,” and has steadily increased in popularity. However, there has been no race scheduled since the series visited Martinsville March 29th, over two weeks ago. The wait won’t end anytime soon, either; the series will take to the track next in two weeks, on April 26th at Kansas Speedway.
It often appears that the suits in NASCAR hold all the cards; they are usually confident that no matter what the circumstances, they always have four aces up their collective sleeves. But a young driver named Aaron Fike — in his bid for eventual re-instatement as a NASCAR competitor — may have just laid down a royal flush. Fike’s recent admission that he used heroin on days he was scheduled to race in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series before he was suspended in July of ’07 has left many in the racing world stunned, and at the very least, has Brian France and his court jesters frantically searching for a napkin to wipe the egg from their faces. One of the reasons Fike’s admission is so stunning is because it is a 180-degree turnaround from statements he made in an Associated Press interview last year, after undergoing four months of intense rehab.
This is it. This is what you’ve been waiting all season for. Tonight, someone is going to be crowned the 2007 Craftsman Truck Series Champion. In the very first “battle of the grandfathers” Ron Hornaday Jr. and Mike Skinner will face off for the final time. Going into the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Skinner holds only a slim 29-point advantage over Hornaday Jr.
While drugs are just one item on a long list of temptations for young men living on their own, traveling all over the country, with money to burn and questions to spare. What if I can’t do the job? Will I lose my ride? How can I get rid of this pressure? There are more questions than answers for these young drivers, and it must be awfully enticing to inhale or ingest a substance that makes those questions go away for a little while. It’s not a wise choice, but it’s available and easy. And at least in part, NASCAR is to blame.
Coupled with the debacle that the Tour de France has degenerated into since Lance Armstrong hung up his Huffy, the worst and lowest rated NBA Finals in history, a lackluster Super Bowl, and the NHL barely keeping it’s head above water, it is times like these we thank NASCAR for being part of the national consciousness, and showing once again what is right with sports.
The drivers of the Craftsman Truck Series got a break this past weekend, and while some drivers spent that time resting and relaxing, others spent it capturing headlines. Aaron Fike was arrested Saturday night with lady friend Cassandra Davidson at Kings Island after the park reported Fike’s SUV as suspicious. Fike tried to drive away when the Mason City Police Department approached the vehicle, but another officer pulled in front, forcing him to stop. After a thorough search of the car, the two offenders were taken into custody and arrested after officers found heroin, syringes, and spoons with residue stashed inside. According to police, Fike admitted taking the drug; if that’s true, those words will cause another promising Truck Series career path to be flushed down the tubes.
Jamie McMurray’s win: Long time coming, or lucky son-of-a-gun?
Travis Kvapil returned to victory lane at Memphis Motorsports Park Saturday night. He held off Ron Hornaday on a restart and ran away from Jack Sprague with just five laps remaining to win the O’Reilly 200. Hornaday, Mike Skinner and rookie Aaron Fike rounded out the top five.