By Jerry Bonkowski
It's so downright quiet out there in NASCARland that it's almost spooky.
As I suggest in my Tuesday blog for AutoRacingDaily.com (click on link on left side of this page), I can't help but wonder why we have heard very little from NASCAR or Jeremy Mayfield's camp since NASCAR placed Mayfield on indefinite suspension Saturday for testing positive for alleged use of an illegal substance or substances.
Mayfield fans – and even non-Mayfield fans – have come out of the woodwork to give their take on the situation, with the majority siding with the owner/driver of the No. 41 Toyota.
In fact, here at JerryBonkowski.com, we set single-day records for total page views, total visitors and also reader comments based upon the column I wrote on Mayfield late Sunday.
(By the way, thank you all ever so much for being part of and helping set those numbers).
So, doesn't it strike anyone else odd, like it does myself, that we've heard nary a peep about the incident since Saturday?
Sure, Dr. David Black, who oversees NASCAR's drug testing policy and is also CEO/president of the firm that performs the tests, Aegis Science Labs (by the way, Black's dual roles seem like a blatant conflict of interest to me), made some comments Sunday and Monday, essentially defending the testing procedure and claiming Mayfield's explanation on the situation was implausible.
But where was NASCAR chairman Brian France or president Mike Helton on Sunday or Monday? Playing golf or spending so much time with their mothers that they couldn't follow-up on Saturday's bombshell?
And where is Mayfield? Is he simply lying low, letting his attorneys prepare both a defense and offensive counterstrike?
Or, like I mention in my blog, could there potentially be a deal being worked on that could help both sides save some serious face?
I have to think that all the resulting bad publicity from Mayfield's suspension is something NASCAR did not bargain for. And, I also have to wonder how Dr. Black can be so adamant that there isn't even the slightest chance ASL's test results could perhaps be flawed, when at least a couple of other nationally recognized experts in the field have come out over the last couple days claiming that it indeed IS possible.
I have a very strange feeling in the pit of my stomach that things are going to go off in a radically different direction in the next day or two, certainly by the end of the week.
I have no proof or inside scoop on this, other than an educated guess, but I keep wondering if maybe there's a compromise deal in the works to potentially reinstate Mayfield, but still with some semblance of a penalty tacked on to the reinstatement possibility.
Look at it this way: if Mayfield is as innocent as he said he was in the statement that was released Saturday night, why haven't we heard anything more from him since then, particularly why hasn't he publicly revealed what prescribed and over-the-counter medications he said he had taken?
Two reasons: either his lawyers have told him to keep his mouth shut while they finish off a deal (the most likely reason), or he's guilty (not so likely reason).
And NASCAR's top officials have been scarcer than a dog tail at a rocking chair convention.
Two reasons for that, as well: either they are going to remain adamant that Mayfield did something wrong and feel no further comment is warranted past the actions already taken, or they're working on a public mea culpa that maybe they jumped to penalize Mayfield too early, that perhaps the test had some semblance of error, that maybe Mayfield's explanation suddenly makes sense, yadda-yadda-yadda.
Again, I may be way off on this one – and if I wind up being such, I'll be the first to take my lumps – but my gut meter (which rarely fails me, by the way) is telling me that when there's tons of silence emanating from NASCAR's headquarters in Daytona Beach, it usually means there's lots of talking going on inside.
My guess is NASCAR and Mayfield are going to reach an out-of-court settlement of sorts that will have him agree to some type of suspension (I'm guessing a couple of races), in exchange for him publicly admitting that he failed to notify Aegis or NASCAR officials that he had perfectly legal yet still considered banned substances by the sanctioning body in his system.
NASCAR, in turn, admits its testing policy is very effective, but it may need some tweaks – as evidenced by what happened to Mayfield. Ergo, the "integrity" of the program, not to mention the reputation of NASCAR and Aegis Science Labs remains intact.
Do you agree that a deal may be in the works? Tell us what you think (feel free to post your comments below – and please include your real name and location, not "Anonymous" as a selection). Thanks!