Rumors heat-up at halfway point
Published 1:44 pm Saturday, July 4, 2009
Jeremy Mayfield went out a limb, a very long limb, by filing suit against NASCAR because the drug related suspension. Mayfield’s risky move paid off Wednesday when a federal judge in Charlotte ruled in favor of Mayfield and granted an injunction. The ruling would allow Mayfield to return to the track as early as Saturday night in Daytona.
This is big news and sets a heavy precedent in not only NASCAR, but in other professional sports. I don’t recall another situation similar to this where an athlete suspended for drug use fights back, and wins—at least temporarily.
You can bet NASCAR will not sit by idly and let this pass. This ruling is appealable and rest assured the paperwork is in the works as you read this. The top dogs of NASCAR are not accustomed to losing, have deep pockets and will go to great lengths to preserve that omnipotent power over their sport.
I don’t think there is any possible way that Mayfield will ultimately win in this situation, the damage has been done. Already there have been whispers by other racers of not wanting Mayfield on the track. When you are driving 200 mph mere inches away from another car, anyone would want to be safe in knowing nothing is clouding the judgment of the other driver.
I don’t know if Mayfield used meth, the drug that triggered the positive test, or if the positive was really a combination of a prescription and over the counter drug. Only Mayfield himself knows for certain. But, I feel certain that no other car owner would dare put him in a car and sponsors for Mayfield personally owned team would be non-existent.
Mayfield can only hope that, if he fights this hard enough, NASCAR and its legal team will offer some sort of financial settlement. I don’t see that happening. And I would be shocked to see Mayfield on the track ever again.
At the halfway point in the season, driver movement, and rumored driver movement, is beginning to get wild. Expect an announcement next week that Martin Truex Jr. is finally leaving the Teresa Earnhardt circus and moving to Michael Waltrip Racing as Mikey’s full time replacement in 2010.
The annual Danica Patrick to NASCAR speculation is also picking up steam. This time there might be teeth to the rumor, Danica did nothing to dispel those rumors during a press conference several weeks ago.
One scenario making the rounds concerning Patrick involves Rick Hendrick. Here’s the deal, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would move his JR Motorsports up to the cup level and bring Brad Keselowski up in the process. He would have a two-car team with full Hendrick support, identical to Tony Stewart’s deal this season.
That would open up a spot under NASCAR’s mandated four-team limit for Hendrick to hire Patrick and have her drive a full cup schedule next season. Of course, all parties have denied such a plan, but it does make sense.
The Coke Zero 400 is Saturday night at Daytona, on the Fourth of July. My pick to win and avoid the “Big One” is Kyle Busch.
Jeff Findley is Publisher of The Post-Searchlight in Bainbridge, Georgia, a sister publication of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, and a syndicated NASCAR columnist. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.