DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Two team owners won't put Jeremy Mayfield in their cars this weekend at Daytona International Speedway, one because of sponsor concerns and the other because Mayfield is "marked" following his legal battle with NASCAR.
Mayfield faces a Thursday afternoon deadline to bring Mayfield Motorsports to Daytona in time to join the 45 other entrants. His indefinite suspension for a failed drug test was lifted by a federal judge Wednesday, allowing him to race this weekend.
He still can bring his own No. 41 Toyota to the track, but the US$5,005 late entry fee is daunting for the cash-strapped Mayfield. He said in an affidavit last week that he laid off 10 employees, borrowed money from family and had to sell personal assets to cover his living expenses.
He's also being sued for more than $86,000 by Triad Racing Technologies for parts, pieces and chassis work that Mayfield allegedly owes the company.
Mayfield said outside court Wednesday he would travel to Daytona, but wasn't sure in what capacity. His suspension covered both his roles as driver and owner of his car, and he wasn't sure he could put something together in time.
Larry Gunselman and Tommy Baldwin, two owners who potentially could have given Mayfield a ride, said they weren't considering him for Saturday night's race.
"Whether he's right, wrong or different right now, he's marked," said Baldwin, "and that's going to hurt him probably for the rest of his career."
NASCAR suspended Mayfield on May 9 after he tested positive in a random drug test on May 1, and spokesman Ramsey Poston confirmed Wednesday that Mayfield tested positive for methamphetamines. Mayfield sued, and U.S. District Court Judge Graham Mullen issued a temporary injunction that allows Mayfield to return to NASCAR this weekend.
Driving Gunselman's No. 64 was believed to be Mayfield's best opportunity at Daytona, but Gunselman said Southeastern-based discount store Fred's, which signed on to sponsor his car this weekend, did not want to associate itself with Mayfield.
"They probably would choose not to be involved at this particular time," said Gunselman, who added he had not had any direct conversations with Mayfield about replacing Mike Wallace in the car.
"For being a small, startup team that's struggled, I have to consider every potential scenario for our race team. Everybody's feelings are kind of sensitive at the moment, and I'd have to be very aware of everything involved."