Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Shana Mayfield in charge of No. 41 team
By David Newton
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Just because Shana Mayfield's name now is listed as the owner of the No. 41 Sprint Cup team doesn't mean her suspended husband won't be heavily involved.
"It's still his deal," Shana said on Wednesday after ownership was transferred from Jeremy Mayfield to her. "He'll be at the shop. It's still going to be run the way he wants it to be run."
Mayfield on Saturday became the first Cup driver suspended for violating NASCAR's substance abuse policy. The suspension included him as a driver and owner, meaning the team couldn't return to the track until ownership changed.
That was done on Wednesday, opening the door for J.J. Yeley to participate in Saturday's preliminary to the Sprint All-Star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.
"When Jeremy started this thing from the beginning our goal was to run all season and that hasn't changed," Shana said. "We have our race sponsors with All Sport and Small Sponsor behind us. We're moving on like it's just another race weekend.
"Of course, it's a lot different. It's going to be a whole different attitude and mentality from all the guys. We've just got to move on and act like it's another weekend and we'll go racing."
Shana maintains her husband did nothing wrong, that the positive test was the result of combining an over-the-counter drug for allergies with a prescribed drug.
Dr. David Black, who runs NASCAR's testing program, disputed that claim saying he's never seen a positive test come from such a combination. Black said it was a "drug of concern," but according to NASCAR policy could not reveal it.
Shana said her husband's only contact with the governing body since the suspension was regarding the transfer of ownership. She added that Mayfield hopes to return to competition before the end of the season.
Before that can happen he must undergo intensive and extensive test from a health care professional approved by Black, who said the process could take "many, many months."
"We'll take what we've been given and go with it," Shana said. "The guys now are feeling more empowered and more excited to prove to the race fans and to show what we're here for. J.J. is a great guy with a great personality. He wants to race. He wants a second chance just as Jeremy did when he started this team.
"He'll fill the void when Jeremy is gone. He'll be at the shop and work with the guys. They need that. They need somebody they can rely on."
Shana said Monday's trip to the shop was difficult on everybody.
"It was somber," she said. "And yeah, it was hard on Jeremy. That's his car. He wants to be there and really deserves to be there. That's the hard part."
Mayfield started the team in January less than a month before the opener at Daytona. He made the Daytona 500 and had qualified for five of the first 11 races.
Most of his employees are people that were laid off from other teams because of the economic crunch.
"There's a lot of guys on the team that are relying on Jeremy and myself to keep that deal going," Shana said. "And yet we're trying to get our lives straightened out and figure out what stretch we're heading in.
"It's rough, but we'll survive."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.