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Judge says Jeremy Mayfield can drive, rules against NASCAR in drug-test suspension case

NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield and his wife, Shana, arriving in court, own their one-car Sprint Cup team.

Associated Press

NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield and his wife, Shana, arriving in court, own their one-car Sprint Cup team.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Two months after a positive drug test for methamphetamines, Jeremy Mayfield is getting ready to return to NASCAR.

U.S. District Court Judge Graham Mullen on Wednesday issued a temporary injunction that allows the driver to get back behind the wheel at Daytona International Speedway this weekend. "This is huge for us," Mayfield said. "This means more to me probably than any race I've ever won or anything."

Concluding that the "likelihood of a false positive in this case is quite substantial," Mullen ruled in Mayfield's favor after about two hours of arguments, including NASCAR's contention that Mayfield is a danger to the sport after testing positive for high amounts of a dangerous, illegal drug.

But Mullen sided with Mayfield's attorney, Bill Diehl, who argued that the test results would be accurate only if Mayfield were a habitual meth user. If Mayfield used the drug at the levels the NASCAR test indicated — and Wednesday was the first time NASCAR publicly named the drug for which Mayfield tested positive — Diehl suggested Mayfield would be "either a walking zombie or he's dead."

"His teeth were never rotting out, his eyes were not sunken," Diehl said. "He never displayed any characteristics that are commonly seen by everyone among people who use meth."

In an affidavit filed last week, Mayfield denied ever using methamphetamines and said he didn't know how he failed the May 1 random drug test. He was suspended eight days later.

The injunction doesn't settle the larger civil suit filed by Mayfield or NASCAR's countersuit.

"We're disappointed, but we'll honor the court's wishes," NASCAR chairman Brian France said. "I'm not going to comment on what we're going to do yet on the next legal process."

Mullen said NASCAR can test Mayfield constantly and ask for a hair sample "to determine if he's been a meth-head or not."

NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston said Mayfield will be required to get a drug test if he tries to qualify for Saturday night's Coke Zero 400.

Mayfield, 40, also might have to win over some drivers. Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson submitted affidavits last week as part of a NASCAR filing. In the documents, the drivers said they are not "willing to put my life at risk driving a race car … with drivers testing positive for drugs that diminish their capacity to drive a race car."

It was unclear whether Mayfield could secure the money to bring his low-budget car to Daytona. The deadline to enter was June 23. Mayfield can join the race as a late entry until the garage opens at 8:30 a.m. today. He also suggested he might try to drive for another team.

Mayfield blamed his positive test result on the combination of Adderall and Claritin-D, a claim debunked by NASCAR's program administrator.

George out at Indy

Tony George is out as leader of U.S. open-wheel racing and its biggest stage, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, at the behest of a board led by his mother.

The board of directors overseeing the speedway and Hulman & Co. said a new management team is taking over both entities, meaning George is out as president and CEO of the track and his family's business. He will stay on the board.

In an e-mail to the Associated Press, George said he would release a statement next week.

His mother, Mari Hulman George, is the board chairwoman. The Hulman-George family has run the speedway, home of the Indianapolis 500, for six decades and also owns the IRL.

Two longtime speedway executives will take over, W. Curtis Brighton as president and CEO of Hulman & Co., and Jeffrey G. Belskus as president and CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp.

Judge says Jeremy Mayfield can drive, rules against NASCAR in drug-test suspension case 07/01/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, July 1, 2009 11:53pm]

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