With the economic downturn, an innumerable amount of Sprint Cup teams either downsized or merged. That left the door open for “little guys” to sneak onto the grid, if they were willing to put up some of their own money and find a small sponsor willing help out a bit.
The likes of Tommy Baldwin, Joe Nemecheck, and TRG stole the headlines as they have been the most prominent of these newcomers (with TRG being the most successful at this point).
Jeremy Mayfield, despite also starting his own team, didn’t garner as many headlines as his fellow startups. Yet, in the early portion of the season, he was one the series’ Cinderella Stories, as he ended up making the Daytona 500 field.
Of course, now he is in the NASCAR headlines, but for the wrong reason. The most recent report regarding his positive drug test has him testing positive for methamphetamine (according to ESPN The Magazine).
Of course, Mayfield has always maintained his innocence, saying that his test came from a combination of Aderrall (a prescribed drug he takes for Attention Deficit Disorder) and Claritin D (an allergy medication).
Neither NASCAR nor Mayfield are commenting on this newest finding (the result of a gag order), but part one of Mayfield’s power play against NASCAR has indeed succeeded.
Over the past month, NASCAR officials have been adamant that it wouldn’t release the substance they say Mayfield tested positive for. Mayfield’s subsequent denial placed much confusion over the matter; the cloud of haze was placed on NASCAR, with their persistent refusal to reveal the substance.
Drivers, teams, journalists, and fans alike became slightly alarmed when it seemed that Mayfield may be innocent, and that NASCAR wouldn’t allow him to argue against what they found (even if he was innocent to begin with).
That pressure he put on NASCAR has now paid off, with the newest revelation in ESPN The Magazine (even if neither NASCAR nor Mayfield isn’t commenting on it).
Part one can now be labeled “mission accomplished.” The substance that Mayfield reportedly tested positive for is now out in the open. But, that was the easy part; even as despotic as NASCAR is at times, there was no way they could keep this hidden, especially with the outside pressure they were under.
Now comes the hard part. When this case goes into court (which is going to happen eventually), Mayfield will have to show that he did, in fact, only test positive for Claritin D and Aderrall, not meth.
While the court system operates under the assumption “you are innocent until proven guilty,” Mayfield can’t have any chinks in his armor. He’ll have to show that whatever was not only legal, but not on NASCAR’s list of banned substances.
Remember, it could be possible that either drug Mayfield says he took may have been on that list, if they have side affects that would hinder his driving ability and focus.
Whether or not those substances are legal may be irrelevant; if NASCAR says drivers can’t take Aderrall or Claritin D, then they can’t take them (even if Claritin is a sponsor, but that’s a different story altogether).
We all know from NASCAR’s history that series officials are often very autocratic. They have their own set of rules, and all involved in the series must abide by them. Something tells me they’ll be even more tyrannical about their drug policy, since it can’t something to be messed with.
What if one or the other has side affects that would adversely affect focus? Surely, I can see NASCAR taking a bit of a hard line on that. And, if Mayfield took one knowing that it’s on the list, then he may up the river without a paddle (assuming such a forbidden list of substances exists, that Aderrall and/or Claritin are on there).
Looking at the happenings over this past month, it is clear that Jeremy Mayfield firmly believes in his innocence, and that NASCAR mishandled the drug test. He may have gotten NASCAR to budge on revealing the substance, but he may have a harder time getting them to budge on this.
I sincerely hope that he is innocent, since I’d hate to see someone see their career ruined. But, if he is guilty, then his NASCAR suspension will be the least of his worries.
Jeremy Mayfield may be the biggest story NASCAR has right now (even bigger than Kyle Busch and his various antics). But, it isn’t for the right reasons. The manner in which he has handled makes one of two things clear.
Too paraphrase a piece written in Auto Racing 1, Mayfield is either crazy innocent, or just plain crazy.