Despite winning an injunction Wednesday in federal court in Charlotte that would allow him to return to the racetrack, Jeremy Mayfield was a no-show Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, site of Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup Series race.

Suspended May 9 after a drug test reportedly revealed methamphetamine in his system, Mayfield was cleared to race after Judge Graham Mullen ruled in his favour-and, in effect, lifted the suspension-on a motion that questioned the validity and methodology of Mayfield's drug test.

Mayfield had argued that his positive test resulted from a combination of the prescription Adderall and over-the-counter Claritin-D, an assertion with which NASCAR's experts adamantly disagree.

But with the passing of the 3 pm deadline for late entry into Saturday's race, the issue of other drivers' safety with Mayfield on the track became moot, at least for this weekend.

With few exceptions, his fellow drivers tried to steer as far away from the subject of Mayfield's court case and its implications for NASCAR's drug-testing policy as they would from a wreck on the asphalt.

"I don't know enough about it to really comment much on it, to be honest with you," Matt Kenseth said. "I'm sure if he comes back, I'm comfortable with him coming back. I'm sure he'll be tested all the time and do all that stuff."

Similarly, Carl Edwards sidestepped the issue.

"I think the best thing is just to wait and see what the real facts are and what comes out," Edwards said. "I think all of the speculation is damaging to both NASCAR and Jeremy, so I'll just wait to see what comes out of it. But I feel safe with all the drivers on the track. I don't have any problem racing anyone."

Nor does pragmatic Kyle Busch.

"Ultimately it was the judge's decision to turn it out how he turned it out," Busch said. "(Mayfield's) free to race, which is fine. If he's out there on the racetrack with me then it doesn't bother me. Normally we're ahead of him anyway."

Jeff Burton, on the other hand, wants to be absolutely certain no driver is on drugs and on the racetrack at the same time. Only under that circumstance would Burton agree with the premise of Mullen's ruling, that the potential harm to Mayfield's career outweighed the potential harm to NASCAR and its competitors.

"I agree with it if and only if Jeremy Mayfield-or anyone that has tested positive for drugs-can be tested soon enough, often enough to assure that he can never be on the racetrack at a time when he would test positive for drugs," Burton said. "If it's 72 hours ... if that's how long it takes to get a result, he should be tested. Twenty-four hours after that he should be tested again, and 24 hours after that he should be tested again, and 24 hours after that he should be tested again.

"I don't consider that harassment. The fact of the matter is, he failed a drug test, and that opens the door to questions. I deserve to 100 percent know that he is 100 percent clean. So he should be tested soon enough, early enough, often enough to where he can never be on the racetrack while using drugs."

Ryan Newman had his doubts about the granting of the injunction.

"When you release somebody, as the federal judge released somebody to go back and do that (race), without necessarily-in my eyes-clarifying everything, that's not cool," he said. "People make mistakes. I just hope the judge didn't make one."

In the aftermath of Mayfield's filing, which also questioned the methodology of NASCAR's testing programme, Kasey Kahne said the process of being tested has been lengthened and complicated.

"I would go and get tested, and it was like kind of in and out," Kahne said of tests earlier in the year. "I got tested at Sonoma (late June), and it's a process now. Every little step, you have to sign your name or initial-work with the person that is taking the sample.

"To me, that's because of the whole Mayfield incident and just clarifying everything and making sure that ... the driver and the person taking the sample are on the same page. I'm totally behind NASCAR. So if he's on the track, you have to race with him."

by Reid Spencer

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment