EXCLUSIVE interview with Jeremy Mayfield: 'I'm very encouraged' about racing again
HICKORY N.C., Jan 10, 2013 (Hickory Daily Record - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Former NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield says his call to a radio show to talk to NASCAR CEO Brian France was what he hopes is his first step forward to being reinstated in the sport.
Mayfield, who sat down for an interview with the Record Wednesday, also denies, as some reports have implied, that he called to confront France. He said he was not angry or confrontational and was sincere when he asked France what it would take to be reinstated in NASCAR.
On Tuesday night, France was appearing on Motor Racing Network's NASCAR Live show. Mayfield got a text message from his wife, Shana, telling him France was on the show. Mayfield made the decision to call the show, figuring there was little chance he would be put through. Shana was with him at Wednesday's Record interview.
"Brian (France) was informed that Mr. Mayfield was on the line and was open to speak to him, answering all of his questions," said Tracey Judd, a spokesperson for NASCAR.
After the call was put through, Mayfield said, "I thought I would just call in and see how you guys were doing. 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."
France said, "Well, Jeremy, you know the path back for you -- it's the path back for anybody. 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," France said.
As Mayfield was saying his goodbyes, France can be heard saying," Would love to have you back."
Mayfield said Wednesday he has not been able to sit down with France and just talk without lawyers being involved since he was suspended from NASCAR in 2009. He said he hadn't reached out to France or any officials at NASCAR until now because of his legal troubles. But those troubles started looking up, he said, and that's part of the reason he decided to call in to the radio show.
Mayfield's legal troubles
He faces felony charges in three counties from possession of methamphetamine to possession of stolen goods/property and felony obtaining property by false pretense. Mayfield's Attorney David Freedman and the district attorney's office appear to be trying to work out a deal but Mayfield has said he won't accept anything that means jail time.
Mayfield said France didn't have to take the call on the radio show Tuesday night.
"I'm very encouraged," Mayfield said.
All Mayfield has ever known is race cars and racing. And while being separated from the sport he loves has been tough, Mayfield admits, it's also been a learning experience for him.
Mayfield said he has learned about himself, life and communication. He would be a different person if he returned to NASCAR, he said.
Even though he always tried to remain humble when he was racing, Mayfield admits he let compliments about his talent go to his head and his ego got in the way.
Looking back, Mayfield says there are things he would let go rather than fight, and he would pick his battles more carefully if he gets a second chance.
He's hoping for that second chance after he gets his legal troubles behind him, which he hopes will happen soon.
"I'm willing to do the program, and I hope they'll tailor-fit the program to Jeremy Mayfield," Mayfield said. "I'm ready, willing and able to do anything they ask, as long as it's tailor-fitted to me."
Mayfield was suspended from NASCAR in May 2009 when he tested positive for methamphetamine, something he denies. He maintains the results of the drug test were due to the attention deficit hyperactivity disorder drug Adderall and the allergy drug Claritin-D.
Judd said in an e-mail to the Record, "NASCAR facilitates assistance for anyone with substance abuse issues. When a NASCAR member's license is suspended because the Substance Abuse Program was violated, NASCAR will send Terms & Conditions letter for reinstatement. By agreeing to the letter, the suspended member is allowed to participate in the Road to Recovery Program."
Judd said NASCAR's substance abuse program administrator works with the suspended member to arrange an evaluation by a substance abuse professional. This evaluation helps the program administrator create a road map leading to a return to competition.
"This plan may include everything from counseling to in-house treatment and rehabilitation," Judd said. "Additional testing is also required, and the Program Administrator will decide how often the member will be tested, for what and under what conditions."
After the member completes the program successfully, the program administrator will recommend reinstatement to NASCAR, Judd said. Each recovery program is different and is based on each individual's needs, she said.
A.J. Allmendinger is the most recent driver suspended for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy. He completed the Road to Recovery program and returned to the sport in October after he tested positive for amphetamines in June.
Mayfield said he would love to get back in NASCAR as a driver with a competitive team, but it doesn't have to be as a driver in the Sprint Cup Series. He would be happy in the Nationwide Series or Truck Series.
Mayfield won five Sprint Cup Series races in 433 career starts and made the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2004 and 2005. In those 433 races, he had career earnings of $30,242,790.
And while it has been a tough couple of years for Mayfield and his wife, he would be starting again with nothing, and that's OK with him.
Mayfield hopes France was able to see he didn't mean anything bad against him or NASCAR.
"I just want to open that communication with Brian (France)," Mayfield said.
Listen to the interview on Motor Racing Network's NASCAR Live show:
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