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Woody: Mayfield Wins, But What, Exactly?

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 1 2009
Jeremy Mayfield may heat things up for NASCAR. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Jeremy Mayfield may heat things up for NASCAR. (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Larry Woody | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

I’m no lawyer – haven’t even played one on TV nor stayed at a Holiday Inn – but from a  layman’s vantage point it looks like NASCAR is in trouble.

A federal judge Wednesday lifted NASCAR’s suspension of owner/driver Jeremy Mayfield, brushing aside the contention that Mayfield is a druggie who’s too dangerous to be on or around a racetrack.

That had been the crux of NASCAR’s arguement since it suspended Mayfield on May 9, claiming Mayfield tested positive for methamphetamines eight day earlier.

Mayfield insisted that he never used meth or any other illegal drug. He said he had taken some over-the-counter prescription medicines that might have triggered the positive test.

In announcing his ruling the judge said NASCAR can continue to test Mayfield to determine “if he’s a meth-head or not” but meanwhile he’s free to earn a living in his chosen profession.

I said from the outset that it was the biggest mystery in the history of the sport. It still is.

Having known Mayfield for over 20 years, I’ve seen how hard he worked to get where he is today. It was hard to believe he’d flush it all down the toilet by messing with drugs – realizing full-well that he could be tested at any moment.

On the other hand it was hard to believe that NASCAR and its Nashville-based drug testing clinic could have somehow botched Mayfield’s drug test and come up with a false positive.

If they did, it’s going to be one extremely expensive cup of urine.

I never believed that NASCAR would intentionally try to destroy Mayfield’s career. But if it went public with an erroneous test result – as Mayfield has claimed all along – that’s essentially what’s happened.

There’s no way that Mayfield can ever get his reputation back.

Even if he manages to pull his team back together and resume racing, the damage has been done.

One shoe has dropped – the suspension has been lifted.

The next shoe to hit the courtroom floor could be a defamation lawsuit with a long string of zeroes on the “damages” line.

How much is a Sprint Cup career worth? What are the projected future earnings for a race team, including winnings and corporate sponsorships? I suspect we’re going to find out pretty quickly.

I’d had trouble with the smell test all along, especially after Mayfield called a press conference to proclaim his innocence, hired a high-powered attorney, and announced that he was taking NASCAR to court.

He sure didn’t talk and act like a guilty man.

NASCAR hasn’t conceded the battle, understand. It can appeal Wednesday’s ruling.

But it has suffered a major legal setback, extremely rare in the sport. For over 50 years the courts have tended to side with NASCAR and its right to self-rule.

Now its authority has been challenged and NASCAR has lost – at least the first round. Stay tuned.

– Larry Woody can be reached at lwoody@racintoday.com

Larry Woody | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Wednesday, July 1 2009
4 Comments

4 Comments »

  • Stan says:

    Does anyone really believe that NASCAR wanted a drug scandal involving one of its Cup drivers? OF COURSE NOT! They’re not out to ruin Mayfield’s career – a positive drug test is that LAST THING NASCAR wants to be dealing with. They had no choice but to enforce their drug testing policy once they were informed of the positive test. There were never going to be any “winners” in this case. From the moment that test came back positive, its was going to be a crap-sandwich all the way around….

  • Robert says:

    I’m upset with the drivers because Mayfield is innocent and it seems like most of them turn there backs on him.

  • marc says:

    “It looks like NASCAR is in trouble?

    Based on what, certainly not this ruling.

    All this judge did was listen to both sides. made NO determination as to their validity but gave Mayfield the chance to race until he or another judge listens and judges the merits of the case.

    It means little except Jeremy will attempt to make the Daytona field and that is a very big maybe considering his sponsorship has collapsed and he’s flat broke.