Heroin lies the rub
But somehow, amazingly, former Craftsman Truck Series driver Aaron Fike drove his truck to a top-five finish at Memphis last summer while he was high on heroin.
The only thing stopping this man, high on a powerful drug, from taking the checkered flag that day was a field full of former series champs like Mike Skinner, Ron Hornaday Jr. and Travis Kvapil. It’s hard to believe, but it happened in front of our eyes -- and no one had any clue to his state of mind.
Yes folks, drugs and drug testing are the talk of NASCAR this week after Fike came out of hiding to talk to ESPN about his amazing story. After a promising start to the Truck Series season in 2007, just one week after the Memphis race, Fike and his girlfriend were arrested and charged with possession of black tar heroin. Instantly, he was off his team and suspended by NASCAR.
Almost a year later, he is jumping back into racing via USAC, but his big-leagues career is basically over, as no NASCAR team on any level will want to take a chance on a recovering heroin addict.
Kevin Harvick, who once let Fike drive his Busch Series car, is leading a group of Cup drivers who want NASCAR to get serious about drug testing. The current approach is to test is a driver is acting suspicious.
This can work, as it did when promising young driver Shane Hmiel failed three drug tests over a period of years and was banned for life. His actions on and off the track prompted the tests initially.
But Fike’s ability to succeed despite being on a drug as powerful as heroin shows how well some people can hide their drug abuse. It’s similar to “functioning alcoholics” who are literally drunk 24 hours a day, but their families and friends have no clue because they pull it off so well. Aaron Fike was a “functioning heroin addict” who happened to drive a race car for a living.
That’s scary stuff, as he could have killed someone had he not been found passed out in a parking lot while possessing heroin a week after the Memphis race.
While they may cry about cost, NASCAR knows they can afford to randomly drug test their drivers and some crew members throughout the season, and sooner or later they will have to catch up to the rest of the major sports on this topic.
And unlike in some other sports (cough: baseball), most of the drivers would actually welcome the testing, as it would ensure their were more likely to survive the next several hundred laps each week.
OFF TO THE FLAT TRACK:
The drivers are out West this weekend for a Saturday night shootout on an almost flat one-miler with an interesting dogleg. In my opinion, just having the racing under those Saturday night lights makes it all the more exciting.
Look for the Hendrick cars to pretty much dominate this race, as well as ex-Hendrick driver Kyle Busch. Jeff Gordon has perhaps the best history at Phoenix, but his team needs to prepare the car better a whole lot better than last week if he wants to get back to running up front. Past success means nothing if your car is junk.