DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --- Jeremy Mayfield was a no-show Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, and that made a lot of people happy inside the garage area.
Even if Mayfield is successful in his effort to have the results of four different failed drug tests thrown out by a court, drivers, sponsors and car owners believe his career has come to a screeching stop.
Nobody at the speedway supported Mayfield after he won a temporary injunction in court Wednesday to have his suspension lifted for testing positive for methamphetamines in a random drug test May 1 at Richmond. The judge said Mayfield should be allowed to race until a different court rules on the validity of the results.
"People make mistakes," said fellow driver Ryan Newman. "I hope the judge didn't make one."
Although Mayfield was cleared to drive in Saturday night's Coke Zero 400, he didn't send his No. 41 Toyota to the track. He also didn't find a ride with another team. In fact, he might not find the sport to be very receptive if he does make a comeback.
"You can't take back what happened," said car owner Tommy Baldwin. "This is a driver that drives in the biggest racing sport in the country. There are 45 teams out there fighting for 20 sponsors. Nobody needs that hassle.
"My question is how does he keep going?"
Other car owners agreed with Baldwin. In fact, nobody said they would hire Mayfield as a driver.
Mayfield said in court that he had to lay off 10 employees after he lost his sponsorships. He also told the judge he's been forced to borrow money from friends and family to pay bills.
Without money, and without any real prospects of driving for another team, it may be difficult to Mayfield to return.
"It will be even tougher for him," said Ed Shull, who manages the Gatorade sponsorship in NASCAR. "The fact is there's a stigma attached to Jeremy Mayfield, no matter how this turns out.
"For sponsors, they're looking for someone without even a hint of problems, especially drugs. The last thing anyone needs is to connect drugs and racing."
Mayfield said he mixed a prescription for attention deficit disorder with an allergy medication. NASCAR said there were high levels of methamphetamine in two samples.
Mayfield has sued to have the results thrown out and to recover lost income during his suspension. NASCAR countersued, claiming he violated his contract with the racing organization by being under the influence of an illegal drug.
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Mayfield will be vigorously tested if he returns.
Reach Don Coble at firstname.lastname@example.org.
TESTING PROCESS TAKES TIME
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --- Drivers now face a more-lengthy, more-detailed process when they are randomly selected by NASCAR for a drug test.
Kasey Kahne said what used to take 10 minutes now lasts 40 as the sanctioning body makes adjustments to its policies after Jeremy Mayfield tested positive for methamphetamines May 1 in Richmond, Va.
"When I went (for a drug test) at the start of the year, it was go in, take your sample, sign your name and basically walk out," Kahne said. "You watch them pour your 'A' and 'B' sample into the different capsules, you sign your name and leave. It was a 5-, 10-minute process. Now it's, every step, you have to initial every step through the whole process. It takes about 40 minutes, it seemed. I think that is just a process now that they've (NASCAR) put into it. There's more into the process so that there's no way around it.
"Everybody out here wants to race and they want to race hard and race with people that are in the same state of mind that you're in. If people are into other things, they should go do those things by themselves and not be on a racetrack going 200 mph with other racers."