What was Jeremy Mayfield thinking? That’s the question many are asking today after Mayfield called into a Motor Racing Network, MRN radio show on Tuesday to confront NASCAR CEO Brain France, a guest on the show NASCAR Live, about coming back to NASCAR to race.
Jeremy Mayfield has had a very troubled and turbulent ride since being banned from NASCAR in 2009 for a violation of the sport’s substance abuse policy. Mayfield has insisted that that the circumstances surrounding his banishment have been unwarranted and unfounded from day one. Mayfield has fought NASCAR to the point of self-ruin.
“I believe that the combination of a prescribed medicine and an over the counter medicine reacted together and resulted in a positive drug test,” said in 2009 after being suspended. “My Doctor and I are working with both NASCAR consultant Dr. David Black and NASCAR to resolve this matter.”
Black disputed Mayfield’s claims, stating, “What we have is a clear violation of policy. In my many years of experience, I have never seen a violation like this due to the combination of over-the-counter or prescription products.” Owing to NASCAR policy, Dr. Black refused to specify the substance for which Mayfield tested positive, instead saying it was “a drug of concern.”
That drug turned out to be methamphetamine. As a result, Mayfield and NASCAR became embroiled in a court battle that involved injunctions and law suits by Mayfield against NASCAR, ultimately ending in Mayfield being ruined and facing the foreclosure of his home and a total loss of his assists in part from owing tens of thousands in back taxes. Not to mention that mayfield has not raced in a stock car since 2009.
News from the Mayfield front had become sparse as of late, the matter seemingly closed, until Tuesday.
Mayfield called in to the MRN radio show, and confronted Brain France, asking to be allowed to race again in NASCAR.
“I thought I would just call in and see how you guys were doing, Brian, Eli,” Mayfield said. “Haven’t been around much to talk to you guys lately, and just wanted to ask Brian if he’s willing to accept the fact I’d like to come back racing and if we could sit down and talk about it and figure out what we need to do to make that work.”
After a short pause, France responded, sounding a little surprised yet well prepared.
“Well, Jeremy, you know the path back for you – it’s the path back for anybody,” he said. “I’ve always hoped you would choose the right path and not litigation and a bunch of other things, but that’s up to you and you have a welcome mat out anytime you want.
“There’s a stated process that AJ Allmendinger just went through and we welcomed him back, and it’s terrific. That’s up to you.”
“OK, well, I appreciate that,” Mayfield said. “I didn’t mean to bother you on the show, but it’s the only way I could get ahold of you and I figured it would be a great opportunity to do that.”
Mayfield then quickly ended the phone call.
AJ Allmendinger did in fact make a come back to NASCAR after becoming the first Cup Series driver to be suspended indefinitely for a substance abuse policy violation. After a few months in NASCAR’s Road to Recovery Program, Allmendinger was re-instated within NASCAR and finished the 2012 season driving in races for James Finch’s Phoenix Racing.
The possibility and outlook of Jeremy Mayfield also completing the Road to Recovery Program is in high question. Many feel like he is a lost cause as a driver. Even with all the evidence saying otherwise, Mayfield continues to insist that he is not addicted to drugs and does not abuse them.
Perhaps Tuesday’s call was an effort to begin that process. Perhaps Mayfield is ready to face his demons, and make his way back to the drivers’s seat.
It is promising to see that after all the accusations, name calling, and hard feeling, NASCAR’s Brain France is still leaving the door open for Mayfield to make a return.
It remains to be seen if Mayfield will walk throughout that open door.