In reading over the decision yesterday to grant a temporary injunction allowing
For in this case, there are no winners.
With U.S. District Court judge
For a drug policy to be effective, it must be nearly perfect. After Wednesday's ruling, NASCAR's policy is on life-support. It's a blow some never expected, as for years, the sanctioning body has taken more of a dictatorial stance on its major issues, giving the impression that they're above reproach -- so much so that they refused to publish an official list of banned substances for drivers even after the vast majority expressed concern no list exists.
Now, that list is the least of the sport's problems. Just think of what happens if NASCAR fails to address the gaping holes in policy or testing procedure. Any driver or crewman who's been accused of testing positive can follow Mayfield's trail and sue, using his case as a precedent that all but wipes out any shred of the sport's authority. They'll use the same arguments ... and they'll win.
That's a tough pill for any totalitarian regime to swallow, especially since it's already been rocked by declining TV ratings and attendance, a racial discrimination lawsuit, and a sponsorship crisis in just the past 12 months. Now, the federal government is officially on its case; and, as we've seen with baseball, that's not the type of police force you can run away from.
But NASCAR's not the only one reeling this Thursday morning. What about drivers like
"If other drivers refuse to race, it will harm the relationships that NASCAR has developed with its drivers, fans, sponsors and broadcasters over the last sixty years."
Well, starting next Sunday at Chicagoland, those drivers will be racing with someone whose "possible" positive result remains. Will they stand up and protest Mayfield's return to the series, as the sport alleges? Or will they respect the court's decision, welcome back their fellow driver into the fold, and begin to move on? While unlikely, should Mayfield's racing cause even one driver to sit out next week, those shockwaves would reverberate throughout the sport. NASCAR can still claim one thing the stick-and-ball ones can't: no strikes and no athlete unions. But will this decision be the final push drivers need to form one?
Come next week, we'll begin to have an answer to those questions. But there's also a nightmarish scenario now burning in every driver's head until the sport's drug policy gets a serious revision: perhaps, one day they, too, could be Jeremy Mayfield. With no list of banned substances and no foolproof testing procedure, permanent damage to both their career and reputation is, to be blunt, one urine sample away.
Which brings us to the matter of Mayfield himself. "The truth came out," he said after leaving the courtroom, a nice pairing with attorney
It's difficult to predict what happens from here. NASCAR isn't sure they'll appeal, Mayfield's future is far from secure, and the garage simply has no idea what to think. Perhaps all of us should take a line from REM, after all.
"Sometimes, everything is wrong."
• Many fans are upset at pit strategy causing another win in the Cup Series. But let's not forget
Logano, crew chief
• It was a little surprising -- and a little sad -- to see a Daytona entry list without the Wood Brothers. It's the first time in the modern era the No. 21 Ford won't even attempt to make the field for the 400-mile race. The team's been very successful on a limited schedule this year, rebuilding their program with 1988 Cup champ
• For anyone wondering if
It just goes to show you no matter how well you do in "AA" or "AAA," the trip to stock car's major leagues is a whole lot harder than it looks. Danica's road to NASCAR stardom would likely be just as difficult.