8:02pm

Once again I am departing from my standard writing and babble!  I am compelled to write this story and I hope that you will understand.

A few years ago, I can’t remember exactly how many, maybe four or five to the best of my recollection, my oldest son, Jason introduced me to one of his good friends, Sol Rodriquez.  He impressed me as a very polite and well spoken young man. 

Now fast forward to about a year and a half ago, Jason tells me of the sudden and serious problems that have come to Sol’s wife Monica.  To make a long story short, she had been diagnosed with a very rare form of cancer with no known cure at that time.  Additionally, they have had one child and she was pregnant with the second child at the time of the diagnosis.  My son told me that Sol and Monica had a web site, that Monica was writing on that site about her journey through this ordeal.  Both Karen and I began to read her story and subscribed to the updates from their site. 

It was rivoting!  It wasn’t long before Monica and her life was intertwined with ours.  We celebated her victories and we were sad with the pit falls.  Monica exhibited courage, strength, and faith at a level far greater than most people twice her age!  Monica affected our lives profoundly, and I am sure many, many other lives as well.    

Monica Rodriquez fought the battle of her life for a year and a half, day in and day out, 24 hours a day!  

THAT BATTLE WAS, IN FACT, THE BATTLE FOR HER LIFE!!!!! 

At 8:02 pm on Monday, May 10, 2009, Monica Rodriquez lost her battle with life

If you wish to read her chronicles and story, go to www.solandmonica.com .  I would suggest that you scroll down to the bottom, which would be the start of the saga, and progress back to the top of the site.  It is a very compelling account of what she and her family went through for all those months culminating with Sol’s very short, succinct , and heart wrenching post of  8:02

Monica, go rest high on that mountain, your work on earth is done!

So now you understand the title of this post…….8:02pm!

NASCAR Drug Policy

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A prominent authority on drug testing says that the indefinite baning of driver Jeremy Mayfield further indicates NASCAR’s need to make public their list of banned substances.  By making public NASCAR’s list of banned substances, it would protect that organization from legal retributions.

Sources close to the fact indicate that Mayfield took Claritin D, an over-the-counter allergy drug that contains pseudoephedrine, a substance banned by most sports.  Mayfield claims that the failed drug test was a results of a combining an over-the-counter drug and a prescription drug, a possibility that the doctor, Dr. David Black, who runs the NASCAR testing  said is not plausible.

But what bothers Dr. Charles Yesalis, a Penn State professor who testified in front of Congress on performance-enhancing drugs, who also spent 25 years researching drug testing, is that the drivers are not provided a list of the banned substances.  All other professional sports, NBA, NFL, MLB, NCAA, and the PGA , all provide a list of substances that are banned by the governing body of that particular sport.  Dr. Yesalis doesn’t disagree with the findings of the test.  He, too, has never found a problem with Claritin D and positive drug tests!

Dr. Yesalis does state that , for legal reasons, NASCAR does need to be more up front on what they are looking for in their drug tests. (espn)

COMMENTARY:

It appears that the only recourse that Jeremy Mayfield has is to sue NASCAR, if he really is innocent of the accused drug violation.  That is because his offense is non appealable by the agreement that the drivers signed with NASCAR.

The flap with Mayfield’s drug test failure has opened up a very sensitive, and undoubtedly a hotly debated issue!  What is your take on this subject?

Mayfield Suspended!

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Saturday NASCAR suspended Jeremy Mayfield owner and driver of the #41 Toyota Cup team, Tony Martin a crewmember of the #34 Cup team, and Ben Williams a crewmember of the #16 Nationwide team for failing their random drug tests.

NASCAR didn’t reveal what substance that Mayfield is accused of using.  NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter did, however, say that it wan’t an alcohol related substance.

Mayfield has made a statement to the public. In part Mayfield states, “I believe that a combination of  prescribed medicine and over the counter medicine reacted together and resulted in a positive drug test.  My doctor and I are working along with Dr. Black and NASCAR to resolve this matter.”

However, NASCAR disputes Mayfield’s explanation.  #41 Jeremy Mayfield’s assertion that the use of two allergy medicines led him to run afoul of NASCAR’s drug policy is not plausible the person in charge of running the program told USA Today (usatoday).  “What we have today is clear violation of the policy”, said Dr. David Black,  whose Tennessee-based Aegis Labs conducts NASCAR’s random testing program.  “In my many years of experience, I have never seen a violation like this due to over-the-counter prescription products.”  Black, citing NASCAR policy, declined to specify what caused Mayfield to test positive, saying it was “a drug of concern”.  Black said, “there’s no way a driver would be in violation” for using cold and allergy medications as directed!

NASCAR doesn’t  have a set list of banned substances.  However, the drivers were warned at the beginning of the season that they would be screened for steroids, amphetamines, and recreational drugs.

Mayfield must now complete a treatment program before he is allowed to return to racing.  “If that treatment program is successfully completed, then that competitor may seek reinstatement”, said a NASCAR spokesman.

As a side note, NASCAR’s first violator to this year’s substance abuse ruling was Paul Chodora.  Mr Chodora was a crewmember of, you guessed it, the #41 Mayfield Motorsports Toyota!  He is no longer employed with Mayfield Motorsports.

COMMENTARY:

Every man has his day in court, but it surely doesn’t look good for Jeremy Mayfield.  I say that with the knowledge of Dr. Black’s comments referencing the over-the-counter allergy medication and the extreme unlikliness of Mayfield’s account of how he tested positive.  If Mayfield is guilty, it puts  a HUGE  black eye on the sport!

What are your thoughts?  Participate in the poll and leave your comments  via the comments tab at the end of this post!

The Old Man Tames The Lady In Black

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The “Senior Citizen” of the NASCAR Sprint cup circuit has just tamed “the lady too tough to tame”, logged his second victory of the 2009 season, and the 37th win of his career.  Mark Martin has come alive this 2009 season!  What is the reason?  Could it be the two seasons of running a partial schedule? Could it be pairing up with a new owner and championship caliber race team?  The following might shed some light on the answer!

Jim Pedley, managing editor of the web site Racin Today (www.racintoday.com) has written a very good article on the recruitment of Mark Martin by Rick Hendrick.  It all started long before the announcement of his being paired up with the #5 Kelloggs team.

The recruitment began when  Rick Hendrick was talking to equally deep thinker, Jay Frye, then employed with Bobby Ginn Racing, whom Martin was driving a partial season for.  These days Jay Frye is the source behind Red Bull Racing’s rise to prominence.  Frye told Hendrick that Martin would rally love to drive one of Hendrick’s Nationwide, then Busch Series, cars at some point in time.

In response to Frye’s statement, Hendrick said, “I would love Mark to drive  one.”  So the deal was for Martin to drive two or three that first year Martin drove for Bobby Ginn Racing.  The first of those races was to be Darlington.

So off to Darlington in 2007 where Martin finihed in second place.  That alone was not what made Rick Hendrick decide to go full steam after Mark Martin. It was Mark Martin being Mark Martin!

Hendrick stated,”I was listening in on the radio, and Mark was complimenting the crew and telling them what an honor it was to drive for the crew.  I told him that he ought to be a car salesman!”  Hendrick continued,”but he was so sincere, he pumped the crew up, with virtually no practice, and Martin finished second.  Martin was running down the leader and got out of the car apologizing to the crew for letting them down, and for winning the race.”  Hendrick went on to say,”I have never heard that before! I mean, the guy had worked hard all day, and is telling the crew that he (Martin) had let the crew down!”

That led to another Nationwide start and another one, and ultimately to a friendship that racing seems to foster.

Then last year Martin won a Nationwide race at Las Vegas for Hendrick Motorsports.  After that Hendrick told Martin that he would put him in Cup car in a New York minute ,IF HE WOULD RUN THE WHOLE SEASON.  The phrase, “the whole season” was the sticking point!

A year later at Richmond, the two were talking and the point came up again.  That sticking point of running the entire year surfaced, yet again.  Rick Hendrick told Martin that he would love to put him the #5 car IF HE WOULD RACE THE ENTIRE SEASON.  Martin lobbied for a partial season.   Hendrick told him he couldn’t do a partial schedule.  Martin told Hendrick that he wished he could race a full schedule, but he had promised his family not to run a full schedule.   THE HOOK WAS SET!

Some time had passed before Rick Hendrick’s phone rang.  It was none other that Mark Martin calling to let Rick Hendrick know that Martin had a discussion with his wife, Arlene.  Martin had called Hendrick to tell him that before he died, he wanted a shot at driving for Mr. Hendrick and his guys!

THE DEAL WAS DONE!

Last Saturday night was more evidence that Mark Martin is rejuvenated and is a force to contend with this season!

AGAIN, I LOOKED IT UP SO THAT YOU WOULDN’T HAVE TO!

Mother’s Day Celebration

Once again I am departing from my standard/traditional writings.  Today is a very special and important day for me and hopefully for all of you!  This is the one day that we set aside to pay homage to that special person who holds a place in our hearts that  is reserved for one and only one person!  There is one person in all of our lives who we really do take for granted 364 days out of the year…….and that is our Mother!!   For all of our youth it is our Mom who nurtures us, who feeds us, who teaches us, who guides us, and through it all she asks nothing in return!  Through it all she still believes that her children are SAINTS, that they are very precious, and most of all that they hung the moon!!!  

I surely hope that today you take the time, make the effort, to do something very special for your mother.  Let her know just how much you love her and appreciate everything that she has done for you!  I am fortunate that at 58 years old, my Mom is still here.  Some of you are not that fortunate to still have your Mother around.  For those of you that don’t have your Mother here, I know that this day is less than a joyous one.  But hopefully today you will allow yourself to reflect on the good times from the past, it is my prayer that those thoughts might put a smile on your face and joy in your heart as you reminisce of days gone by! 

There are 4 women that are extremely important in my life!  I would like to let each one of them know that I  love them very much and appreciate all that they have done for me!! 

Obviously I want to thank my Mom, who has guided me and put up with my mischievousness and orneriness.  I cannot ever repay her for her patience, kindness, and guidance!  The next woman I need to thank is my sister, Zeeva!  She was my babysitter, kinda sorta as I was growing up, she too put up my shenanigans.  I know that I annoyed the living crap out of her!  My little granddaughter, Hannah, doesn’t know that she has a big impact on her “Papa”!  But the innocence of a yong child has profound impact on your life.

I have saved the best for last.  There  is an old saying that goes something like this.  You don’t realize what you have until you loose it, or something like that!  Well, I am fortunate to have regained one of the biggest loses in my life! ( I took off 16 years for “bad behavior”!)  That person is the love of my life, my best friend, and also my wife…….Karen!!!

To all four of the women in my life, I would like to tell you that I love you with all my heart. Thank you for being in my life!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!!

The Smell of Tradition

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This week NASCAR rolls into Darlington Speedway.  That is not earth shaking news, in and of  itself.  But what is earth shaking is what they have named the race.  The Darlington Speedway management has brought back  the long standing traditional name of ” The Southern 500″!  Granted, “The Southern500” was traditionally run during the Labor Day Weekend in September each year.  But since loosing one of it’s racing dates, the Darlington race was rescheduled for the middle of May.  Also the name,”The Southern 500″ disappeared off of  the schedule.

The Darlington Speedway was THE original superspeedway in NASCAR.  The first race was held on Labor Day, 1950.  Harold Brassington, the track builder, was expecting no more that maybe 10,000 people to attend this race.  However, as it turned out, more than 25,000 people were in attendance for that Labor Day race in 1950!  The winning driver that afternoon was Californian Johnny Mantz, completing the 500 mile race in SIX hours!  They now complete the 500 miles in about 3:30 minutes!

The most exciting race at Darlington recent memory ocurred on March 16, 2003.  That race involved one Ricky Craven and Kurt Busch (aka Ears Laid Back, ELB).  After trading the lead for several laps, these two drivers came out of turn #4  beating and banging on each other.   As they crossed the start/finish line Busch”s #99 Ford and Craven’s #32 Pontiac were wrecking and, at the same time, racing for the win and the Checkered Flag!  Ricky Craven won the race by the narrowest of margins!

The year’s race is the 60th anniversary for the marriage between Darlington and NASCAR!  If that isn’t tradition, then I don’t know what is!  Likewise, the #43 Richard Petty Blue Plymouth in the picture above is the epitome of tradition.  As long as there has been NASCAR, there has been a Petty involved in the race!  First there was Lee Petty, later King Richard Petty, then came Kyle Petty as drivers.  These days there is Richard Petty Motorsports as a car owner!

Now you may be asking, just what does tradition smell like?  It smells like hot dogs and hamburgers.  It smells like popcorn, Coca Cola, and ice cold beer.  It smells like families gathering to root on their favorite driver to victory.  It smells like warm motor oil, horsepower and burning rubber!! 

That is what tradition smells like!

Birthday Boy Wins at Richmond!

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Saturday night at Richmond was a runaway with the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Combos Toyota.  With that win at Richmond, ol Kylie, aka TLVW(The Las Vegas Weasel)  became the youngest driver, 24 years old, to gain 15 victories at the Cup level.  He also become only the second driver in Cup history to win on his birthday!  The only other driver to accompolish this feat is none other than Cale Yarborough.  Cale did that twice in his career, 1977 at North Wilksboro Speedway and in 1983 at Atlanta!

Not only did TLVW win Saturday night at the Cup, race, but he also smoked the field on Friday night in the Nationwide Series!  If that doesn’t make you think that just maybe TLVW and his crew are back on track for another run at the Cup championship, TLVW beat Denny Hamlin at Hamlin’s own charity race earlier in the week!!!  It is quite evident that TLVW can really wheel a race car around the track, that really pains me to admit that fact!!  But the facts are the facts, plain and simple and he is poised to make a huge run to the front!

The race at Lowes Motor Speedway over Memorial Day weekend will mark the 1/3 mark in the  2009 Cup season.  It looks like it has been  fairly even matched, with no one driver dominating in the wins column.  But there are some drivers who are very consistent in their finishes, most notably Jeff Gordon.  Is this his year to complete “the drive for five”?

Could this be the year for the Busch brothers?  Could Kurt Busch win his second championship and the first for  Penske Racing?  You might be saying that Penske driver Rusty Wallace won a championship in 1989 for Penske.  Rusty’s 1989 championship was with Raynmond Beadle as the owner of the #27 Pontiac.  You might remember Raymond Beadle from his NHRA days as the driver of the funny car BLUE MAX.

Could TLVW win his first Cup championship?  Ol Kylie seems to bet getting his “race on” these days!  If the driver and the team can keep their focus and not succumb to the pressures of  The Chase, it might be their year.

With almost one third of the season under their belts, it would appear that the top twelve are shaping up.  What are your thoughts on just how The Chase is looking?  Who has the best chance to win the Cup Championship?  Will we see a “fourpeat” by Johnson?  Or will this year be a first time cup champion?

Sound off, what are your thoughts on the 2009 Season so far?