Published July 13, 2012
LOUDON, N.H. – Carl Edwards wants drivers to pay for a drug testing system to help avoid mistakes that he said could occur under the program operated by NASCAR that led to the suspension of AJ Allmendinger.
"It's an imperfect world. People are imperfect. Tests are imperfect," last year's Sprint Cup runner-up said Friday before qualifying for Sunday's race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
"We need to have our own group that is paid by us, that works for us, to be here in tandem with the NASCAR drug testers and have them test us at the same time.
"I don't think it would be a contentious thing. I think that would remove almost all doubt in any situation of a positive test."
He called NASCAR's approach "very admirable" in trying to keep the sport clean but "there's one more layer that we could put on it. ... You don't want to convict a guy of something he didn't do."
But Brad Keselowski, a teammate of Allmendinger, criticized Edwards' proposal.
"I don't think we need more politics involved in the sport and that's what (testing) groups like that bring in," Keselowski said.
He doesn't think drivers should be allowed to take any supplements, not even "Flintstone" vitamins. Permitting some of them leaves a gray area of what should and shouldn't be allowed, he said.
"I don't think there needs to be any committee that approves drugs or supplements or whatever it is," he said. "I just think you shouldn't be allowed to take anything. You should just man up and drive the damn race car."
Allmendinger was suspended about 90 minutes before last Saturday night's race at Daytona International Speedway after his "A'' urine sample taken the previous weekend at Kentucky Speedway came back positive. He has requested that his "B'' sample be tested and plans to have his toxicologist present when that is done, probably next week.
Even if that test is negative, Allmendinger's future in the sport is in danger, Keselowski said.
"It doesn't make a difference. It's still a death sentence," he said. "Within this sport, we rely on sponsors and reputation."
Allmendinger, 22nd in the Sprint Cup standings, tested positive for a stimulant, according to a statement Wednesday by his business manager. NASCAR has a policy of not identifying the substance.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other drivers expressed strong faith in the current testing policy, begun in 2009.
"I'm certain that as big and structured an organization as NASCAR is and the agency they have that works with them on their drug program, they can't make any mistakes," Earnhardt said. "They can't afford to make any mistakes. I assume, although I don't have any answers or don't know anything about this particular incident, I have to believe that they're making the right calls and the right choices."
Sprint Cup points leader Matt Kenseth also supported the system being used but said he was withholding judgment on Allmendinger until the "B'' sample results are known.
"They did a lot of things when they put that system in place to make it as fair as they can," he said. "I believe that NASCAR is going to err on the side of caution. I think they're going to be pretty darn careful before they do something that could really jeopardize somebody's career .So I'd have a hard time believing that it's not pretty rock solid or I don't think NASCAR would have reacted liked that."
Sam Hornish Jr., replaced Allmendinger in the Daytona race and will drive again on Sunday.
"It's an unfortunate situation for everybody here because it just takes away from the program as a whole because everybody is focused on something that is not productive for us," he said.
Several drivers had questions.
Why did NASCAR wait until just before a race to suspend a driver for a test taken nearly a week earlier?
"I don't necessarily understand 100 percent the timing of why that takes so long," Kevin Harvick said. "It seemed like an odd situation to be right before the race."
And just what is the banned substance found in Allmendinger's "A'' sample?
"We've got to wait to hear more results. I hope we get a full story," Jeff Gordon said. "You certainly like to know what it is ... what could have caused it."
NASCAR's drug policy defines a stimulant as "amphetamine, methamphetamine, Ecstasy (MDMA), Eve (MDEA), MDA, PMA, Phentermine, and other amphetamine derivatives and related compounds."
Drivers usually are careful about making sure supplements, prescription medicines or anything else they ingest do not contain items banned by NASCAR.
"Prior to taking any supplements I've worked out the list (of items) that I wanted to take, submitted it, and four or five days later I heard back that everything's approved," Jimmie Johnson said.
He hasn't followed Allmendinger's situation extremely closely.
"I guess when you're not in question, you just go about your day and don't worry about it," Johnson said, "but we're all paying attention a lot now and wondering."