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Matt Kenseth says racing with Jeremy Mayfield is okay with him, but Ryan Newman has reservations

Matt Kenseth, the Daytona 500 winner, says he's cool with Mayfield returning to action (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   If Jeremy Mayfield makes it to the starting line in a Sprint Cup car for Saturday night's 400 here, after winning an injunction against NASCAR's suspension, Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth says he won't have any trouble racing with him on the track.
   "I'm comfortable….I haven't been uncomfortable with any of the drivers…though there are some drivers who aren't in the sport any more that you might have thought there was something going on," Kenseth says.
   "But I'm comfortable with him coming back. I don't think anybody has ever had any problems with Jeremy.
    "I don't really know much about it. I haven't studied the policy that much, except for the sheet of paper they gave us. I'm lucky I've been healthy."
   However Mayfield apparently won't be in this 400; he didn't bring his own car here by the 8:30 a.m. Thursday deadline, and he didn't sign in personally at the NASCAR hauler by the 3:30 p.m. deadline, in order to drive a car for someone else. NASCAR could still use its discretion and let him run in the 400; there are precedents. However, the nature of the legal case between NASCAR and Mayfield would likely preclude that.
   Kyle Busch, a three-time tour winner this years, says a possible Mayfield return "doesn't bother me.
  "Ultimately it was the judge's decision, so he's free to race, which is fine. Normally we're ahead of him anyway
   "I've been tested. NASCAR does a good job of what they do. So I feel they'll do the right stuff in the Mayfield situation.
   "I just do what I'm told. As long as I'm clean, they won't find anything in the cup"
   Mark Martin, like several fellow drivers, expressed confusion with the entire issue, but Martin insisted "I'm comfortable with being on the racetrack with Jeremy Mayfield. One-hundred percent."
   Martin added "I feel that NASCAR needs to have the authority to say whether or not that you drive.
  "I don’t know anything about judges.
  "I don’t know anything about laws, and I don’t know anything about anything else. But I do believe that NASCAR needs to have the authority to make that call.
  " And they need to be responsible with it and careful with it.
  "I think that somebody is wrong. Either Jeremy or NASCAR is wrong, and I don’t know which one.
  "But whichever one is wrong is really hurting the other.
  "I don’t know.
  "I'm just not concerned with being on the racetrack with Jeremy. None whatsoever. I'm not concerned with that.
  "I feel one hundred percent confident being on the racetrack side-by-side with Jeremy.
  "That doesn't mean that he didn't fail.
  "I don’t know what happened, okay?
  "I'm just saying if he races, I have no problem.
  "I do however have a problem with NASCAR not being able to say you can’t.
  "That is a problem for our sport. They need to be the authority. They need to be able to say if you do or if you don't.
  "They need to be responsible with it, and careful with it.
  "But they need to have the say."
  Carl Edwards: "The best thing is to wait and see what the real facts are. The speculation is damaging to NASCAR and to Jeremy. But I have no problem racing with any of the drivers on the track."
   However, Ryan Newman says he's leary of the entire situation: "People make mistakes…I hope the judge hasn't made one."
   And if Newman were door to door with Mayfield, he says "Yes, I would potentially question that judgment. But I wouldn't know how to do that until it happened."  If Mayfield doesn't run here, he could run next weekend at Chicago.
    "I think I'll feel comfortable on the track with him, if they test him and if he tests negative," Greg Biffle said.
    One issue, however, is that NASCAR's drug testing program doesn't provide quick results; it took NASCAR's drug testing lab four days to provide results.
   Biffle said he was somewhat confused about the most recent twists in the Mayfield-NASCAR debate: "I thought he tested positive, and I thought that process was clean. So whatever went on, I don't really understand."
   Juan Pablo Montoya got drug tested by NASCAR at Dover, Del., four weeks ago: "They normally call you when you get out of the car after practice, but we finished practice early actually and I was actually peeing when they called me. I said 'Can I come back in like two hours so I can drink some water?' They said ‘No, you have to be with us here, and you have to fill it at once.'
   "I thought this is going to be a while. So I had like five bottles of water and just sit there until I could pee... and then the next three hours I pee every 10 minutes."
   Jeff Burton agrees things are confusing: "I think it's important to understand what the ruling is.
   "Once the ruling was made, there’s been a lot of jumping to conclusions that what the judge said was that NASCAR's wrong, end of story.
   "That's not the case at all.
   "What the judge said was -- or the way I viewed it -- was that it is in question: The result can be questioned. But the judge did not say the result was wrong.
   "The judge said it could be questioned...and while it's being questioned, what do we do about it?
   "The way I view it is that if and when he comes back, NASCAR has every right to test him as many times as they would like, to make sure things are being done correctly and there's no drug problem on the race track.
   "The only problem with that is that it's not an instant test.
   "One thing I disagree with the judge on is that my safety is important to me -- and if there's an instant test available, then I think the judge's opinion is 100 percent right.
   "There is no instant test available.
   "At the same time, from Jeremy's perspective, if the judge ruled it can be questioned, then it should be questioned, and he should have the ability to look into it.
   "If that's what the court ruled.
   "It's a tough situation for anybody to make that decision because he potentially puts my safety in jeopardy with that decision.
   "The other decision potentially puts Jeremy's career in jeopardy. So what do you do?
   "That's almost not a right answer.
   "Sometimes you can make an answer, but neither one is 100 percent right, and that’s the way I view it.
   "The next step is going to be a really big step when the case continues.
   "I am obviously not an attorney; I don't know if there's going to be appeals...but ultimately unless there is some agreement prior to that, it will eventually go to trial, and that decision of that trial will be huge.
   "I would love to have an instant test for anyone that's in question.  At the same time, the ultimate question could be the court system -- and if the court system says 'Hey, maybe we should look at it,' then I'm okay with looking at it."


  Jeremy Mayfield: what next for NASCAR officials and their drug policy, now that a federal judge has ruled in Mayfield's favor and against NASCAR? (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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