Mayfield Leads The Field In Daytona Garage Talk
By Rick Minter | Senior Writer
Daytona Beach, Fla. – The temporarily reinstated Jeremy Mayfield isn’t among the entries for Saturday’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway, but he dominated the discussions between drivers and the media.
Most drivers said they wouldn’t be hesitant to race against him whenever he returns to competition, but there were some reservations. A U.S. District Court judge on Wednesday allowed Mayfield to return to the track but NASCAR still can test him beforehand.
“I’m comfortable with him coming back,” Matt Kenseth said. “I’m sure he’ll be tested all the time and do all that stuff.”
Kyle Busch didn’t seem worried either, but for a different reason.
“If he’s out there on the race track with me it doesn’t bother me,” Busch said. “Normally we’re way ahead of him anyway.”
Carl Edwards said he wasn’t worried about racing against Mayfield, but he’d like to see more facts revealed before people form their opinions on the case.
“I think the best thing is to just wait and see what the real facts are and what comes out,” he said. “I think all of the speculation is damaging to both NASCAR and Jeremy…
“But I feel safe with all the drivers on the track .”
Jeff Burton said he’d feel more comfortable with a driver returning to the track in a circumstance like Mayfield’s if there was a way to determine if he was impaired at that time.
“One thing I disagree with the judge is that my safety is important to me, and if there’s an instant test available then I think the judge’s opinion is 100-percent right,” he said. “There is no instant test available….
“It’s a tough situation for anybody to make that decision because [the judge] potentially puts my safety in jeopardy. The other decision potentially puts Jeremy’s career in jeopardy, so what do you do?
“There’s almost not a right answer.”
Ryan Newman seemed to agree with Burton on the recent turn of events.
“Everybody makes mistakes,” he said. “I hope the judge didn’t make one.”
The Mayfield case seems to have already had an impact on NASCAR’s drug testing, at least according to Kasey Kahne’s comments. Kahne said that one change that has come about in the wake of Mayfield’s positive drug test at Richmond is a more thorough test of drivers.
“I’ve been tested a few times this year,” he said. “Early in the year, I would go and get tested and it was kind of in and out. I got tested at Sonoma and it’s a process now. Every little step you have to sign your name or initial… work with the person that is taken the sample.
“To me, that’s because of the whole (Jeremy) Mayfield incident and just clarifying everything and making sure that …the driver and the person taking the sample are on the same page.”
Kahne said a process that once took five to 10 minutes now takes much longer.
“Now you have to initial every step through the whole process,” he said. “It takes about 40 minutes it seemed at Sonoma. I think that is just a process now that they’ve (NASCAR) put into it. There’s more into the process so that there’s no way around it.”
– Rick Minter can be reached at rminter@racintoday.No Comment