It is no secret that when someone is suspended from their job, their life takes a drastic change. No paycheck means no money to pay the bills, put food on the table, or gas in the car.
To say that feeling hit Jeremy Mayfield is a mild understatement.
I was in Darlington when Jim Hunter made the announcement that Mayfield was suspended for failing NASCAR's drug policy. The reaction I had was the same as everyone in attendance, one of disbelief, shock, and maybe curiosity.
Since then, what has transpired has been nothing short of a soap opera. Mayfield says he tested positive because of prescriptions. NASCAR then says it was methamphetamine.
Mayfield files suit against NASCAR, and is successful in getting his suspension lifted. What seemed to be Mayfield's greatest victory is actually overshadowed by what he lost.
After the ruling, Mayfield still did not return to the track with his team. He did make the trip to Daytona, but no team entered showed interest in having him drive. Mayfield did not enter his team in the following race at Chicago.
The lack of racing took its toll on the team, as employees began resigning not knowing of their future. Mayfield soon sold his remaining assets of his team, including cars, haulers, and equipment. Still, Mayfield wanted to get back onto the race track, to what he enjoyed doing and what his fight was all about.
That notion took a huge blow when NASCAR then came back with a second positive test, again for methamphetamine. Mayfield's own mother-in-law then makes statements that she saw him both use and manufacturer his own drugs.
With this evidence, they went back to court asking for the suspension to be reinstated. Mayfield and his attorneys counter with a negative test that was done in a private lab days prior.
It proved to be not enough, as today Mayfield's suspension was reinstated.
The battle that Mayfield has been fighting, although somewhat successful, has ultimately been a losing one. His name is forever tarnished, and it is unclear where he goes from here.
Just as a fan looking from the outside, I hope Mayfield sees that despite the success he had in this sport, it now means nothing. This experience has taken everything he loved away.
It is a sad way to think about a man who got his first big break with Roger Penske in 1998 teaming with Rusty Wallace.
It seems as if there may be more down the road in this continuing saga. NASCAR still has to present its full appeal to the U.S. District Court, and it is unclear if the original verdict will be overturned.
Whatever decision the court makes, it will not bring back what Mayfield has already lost. It is highly unlikely anyone will see Mayfield back in NASCAR, or any racing circuit for that matter.
It is an uphill climb for Mayfield to restore his credibility in NASCAR. It will be even harder for his fellow drivers to trust him.
Whatever happens, it is a very steep climb for Mayfield to get back to the way his life was on May 8, 2009.
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