NASCAR Notes: NASCAR’S Drug Policy Is Still On Track
BY DAVE GRAYSON
Despite the fact that we have been well aware of NASCAR’s strict position on substance abuse for several years now, it doesn’t make it any less shocking to us when that policy has to be enforced. The most recent announcements from NASCAR, regarding substance abuse, literally came within two days of each other.
The first announcement came on October 15th and said that Marshall Faust, a crew member from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, had been indefinitely suspended for violating two sections of the NASCAR rule book: 12-1, actions detrimental to stock car racing, and section 19, violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy.
Then, on October 17th, came an announcement from NASCAR that said veteran crew chief Todd Parrott had also been placed on indefinite suspension for violating the same sections of the rule book. The suspension of the 49 year old Parrott, the crew chief from Richard Petty Motorsport’s #43 NASCAR Sprint Cup team, raised more than a few eyebrows in the NASCAR garage area, when he became the highest profile crew member to violate the substance abuse policy.
Parrott has a genuine NASCAR legacy associated with his long career in the sport. That includes 31 wins as a crew chief, which places him third on the all time win list for active crew chiefs. He also led driver Dale Jarrett, and Robert Yates Racing, to the 1999 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship.
NASCAR’s substance abuse policy is regarded as being the most strict program in all of professional sports. That’s rightfully so. You certainly can’t tolerate the creation of the safety issues that comes with impaired crew members working on a race car and you absolutely cannot tolerate the presence of an impaired driver on the track. That’s two major reasons why NASCAR’s zero tolerance towards substance abuse in their sport begins with an automatic indefinite suspension levied against those who violate the policy.
As strict as that zero tolerance is, there’s also a benevolent clause in the program aptly titled “The Road To Recovery.” It’s a rigorous rehabilitation program that provides impacted individuals with the tools needed to live a life free of substance abuse. Those who choose to enroll in, and successfully complete, this comprehensive program are rewarded with reinstatement in hopes that they will be allowed to resume their NASCAR racing careers.
NASCAR’s substance abuse policy is a program that should be studied and implemented by officials that represent the other major professional sports in our country. The programs currently used by the other major sports are often impeded by the presence of attorneys, agents and union representatives who are seeking an easy out scenario for the athletes they represent that is often tantamount to a slap on the wrist.
NASCAR’s substance abuse program is on track and it has created a safer environment on the track as well. Once again, they should be applauded for the effort that has gone into its creation and enforcement.