France reminds driver of Road to Recovery program
When suspended race car driver Jeremy Mayfield called into a Motor Racing Network show on Tuesday night to speak with NASCAR Chairman Brian France, the unexpected and unorthodox scenario immediately filled Twitter timelines and created a buzz in the racing world.
But as far as NASCAR is concerned, the story isn’t new.
If Mayfield -- who was suspended in 2009 after testing positive for a banned substance -- wants to compete in NASCAR again, he must go through the sport’s Road to Recovery program -- something France reminded Mayfield during a minute-and-a-half live exchange on Eli Gold’s evening show, “NASCAR Live.”
After Gold told his listeners he had a familiar name on the phone, Mayfield explained why he used the forum and seized the opportunity to speak with France.
"Jeremy, you know the path back for you is the path back for anybody."
-- NASCAR Chairman Brian France, to driver Jeremy Mayfield
“I just want to ask Brian, if he’s willing to accept the fact I’d like to come back racing and if we can sit down and talk about it and figure out what we need to do to make that work,’’ Mayfield said.
France responded, “Jeremy, you know the path back for you is the path back for anybody.
“… You have a welcome mat out anytime you want. But 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.’’
After a short pause, Mayfield said, “Okay, well I appreciate that. I didn’t mean to bother you on the show, but it’s the only way I could get ahold of you and figured it would be a good opportunity to do that.”
Although Mayfield has never formally entered NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program, 17 people -- team members and drivers -- have been reinstated after successfully completing it, including former Camping World Truck Series competitor Aaron Fike. He was reinstated this fall after being suspended in 2007 following an arrest for heroin.
Allmendinger was reinstated in September following a two-month suspension from NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition after he tested positive for a banned substance in a random test in July.
While these two drivers have generated the biggest headlines, crew members have also successfully returned to work after completing a supervised recovery program tailored to each individual’s needs and followed up with rigorous testing.
“It’s an old story in that the story hasn’t changed,’’ said John Bobo, director of NASCAR’s Racing Operations and Substance Abuse Program. “When someone tests positive for the kind of things he’s tested positive for, the most you want for that individual is to seek some kind of help. And NASCAR has always been willing to facilitate treatment for anyone who would like treatment.
“Our road to recovery program and the people that have graduated from the Road to Recovery are testament to those principals.’’
“There’s a lot of other people, not just drivers, who have successfully returned to work and what’s great is I hear about what a difference it’s made in their life and their families in addition to being able to come back and compete.
“We do have a very successful track record of reinstating people to competition whether its crew guys, mechanics.’’