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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Some drivers more accepting than others of Mayfield returning

Among the most interesting dynamics to the Mayfield drama is the way other drivers have reacted.

As was to be expected, many drivers have cast an angry eye toward Mayfield, and gone so far as to put their name on court documents that show support for Mayfield’s suspension. This group includes Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, whose affidavits say they don't want to be on the same track as someone who tests positive for a banned substance or has drugs in his system.

Ryan Newman was quite concerned after hearing of Mayfield’s court victory, saying; "People make mistakes. I hope the judge didn't make one."

I understand the concern of these drivers and what they say is basically common sense, but they’re ignoring a key element in this particular situation: The test result is being questioned and it could turn out to be a false positive. Couple that with the fact these guys have racing against Mayfield for the past 15 years without any hint of a drug problem, plus the fact that he would definitely be tested again before getting back on the track, and I think we have a bit of an overreaction by some drivers. What do they think – that after getting this far in court and protesting his innocence for months, that Mayfield is going to show up all hopped up on meth and run everybody into the wall?

Others, such as Mark Martin, have said that if Mayfield can pass a drug test, they has no problem being on the same track with him. This, to me, is a more common sense approach. Martin has raced for more years than pretty much everyone on the track, so his opinion on this matter is one that other drivers might learn something from.

Some drivers used the opportunity to talk trash about Mayfield’s backmarker status this year.
Kyle Busch said, "If he's out there on the race track with me, it doesn't bother me. Normally, we're ahead of him anyway."
Kasey Kahne was equally harsh, saying: "As far as racing with Jeremy, I don't ever race with Jeremy. He's at one end; I'm at the other."

That is kicking a guy when he’s down, but I’ve always applauded drivers who are honest, and if that’s what they want to say, more power to them.

Another common sense approach came from unofficial garage “mayor” Jeff Burton, who urged that if Mayfield is at the track, he is tested as often as possible to make sure he’s telling the truth about being clean.
"The fact of the matter is that he failed a drug test, and that opens the door to question," Burton said. "I deserve to 100 percent know that he is 100 percent clean and so he should be tested soon enough, early enough, often enough to where he can never be on the race track while he is using drugs."

This is a good way to look at the situation as a competitor. You need to know you will be safe on the track, but every man still has the right to prove he is innocent.

And on that note: Happy Independence Day and enjoy the Firecracker 400.


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