AVONDALE, Ariz. – The revelations by former NASCAR Craftsman Truck series driver Aaron Fike to ESPN The Magazine this week that he competed in races while under the influence of heroin ignited a firestorm of concern from NASCAR drivers on Thursday.
Several drivers, led by a very outspoken Kevin Harvick - who once employed Fike as a driver in the Nationwide Series - called for NASCAR to adopt a random testing policy. NASCAR’s current policy provides for testing for “reasonable suspicion.”
“I had a long conversation with NASCAR the last time we had this policy brought up in the end of the year last year and it almost seems like it went on deaf ears,” said Harvick.
“I’m disappointed with the fact that we’re in a case where we have to have a reaction instead of being proactive about the situation.
“To me, it was just kind of one of those meetings where they were content to listen to what I had to say and that was about it. My name is not Jeff Gordon.”
Other drivers chimed in as well.
Kasey Kahne said he doesn’t believe he races with guys on drugs, but acknowledged, “There are certain people you wonder about sometimes.”
“I definitely wondered about Aaron Fike the last year he was in Nationwide or whatever he was racing. I always wondered. I really had no clue why he raced for as long as he did,” Kahne said.
NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said no conversation between driver and the sanctioning body ever falls on deaf ears.
“Now, they might not always come out of the meeting with the answer they’re looking for, but we listen,” he said.
“The responsibility here rests across the board – with the drivers and competitors, owners and teams and NASCAR. We test an individual when we have reasonable suspicion and a positive test results in severe consequences and is a career-changing moment for that person.
“No system is flawless, but we believe our zero-tolerance policy that is in place has served the sport well.”
Harvick, Kahne and two-time series champion Tony Stewart all said Thursday they had never been given a NASCAR drug test.
“I’m all for it – I would love it,” Stewart said. “I think is should be mandatory that we have random drug testing all the time.”