The news broke early on Wednesday that the latest Xfinity winner, Spencer Gallagher, was hit with a NASCAR substance abuse policy violation. He certainly wasn’t the first. Let’s take a look at other’s that have been dealt a similar blow.
Tim Richmond (1988) – Richmond became ill in 1987 and had to sit out a portion of the season. It was later revealed that he had contracted AIDS but that was kept under wraps for a very long time, even if there were whispers in the garage. NASCAR was leery of Richmond, not knowing the full story, and suspended him prior to the 1988 season for a substance abuse policy violation. It was later revealed that he had Sudafed and Advil in his system. Richmond went on to sue NASCAR and win, and was reinstated, however he never raced again before passing away in August of 1989.
Shane Hmiel (2003, 2005, 2006) – Hmiel failed three separate drug tests in his NASCAR career, with the final failure resulting in a lifetime ban from NASCAR. After a long stint in a drug rehab center in 2007, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. Hmiel would then be prescribed proper medication to get his life in order. He would begin racing USAC Sprint Cars in 2009, eyeing an eventual run in the IndyCar Series. However, in October 2010, at Terre Haute, his career would come to an end after a crash caused the roll cage to crush down on his neck, paralyzing him. Today Hmiel runs a non-profit organization, Shane’s Spark, helping other injured people find a positive way to live.
Brian Rose (2003) – Rose began running NASCAR in 2001 in the Craftsman Truck Series. He ran 38 truck races from 01-03 before refusing to take a drug test in early 2003. Rose was later arrested for possession of marijuana and a handgun in 2005. He returned to NASCAR in 2010, running one event at Kansas Speedway. In 2014, Rose was indicted on charges of running a $15 million Ponzi scheme that dated back to 2011. He was given a nine year prison sentence in December of 2016.
Kevin Grubb (2004) – Grubb was first suspended in 2004 for substance abuse violations, but later reinstated by NASCAR. He was suspended again during the 2006 season after a first lap crash in the September Busch (Xfinity) race at Richmond when he refused to take a drug test following his accident. Unfortunately Grubb would commit suicide in a Richmond hotel in May of 2009.
Aaron Fike (2007) – Fike was arrested in 2007 at King’s Island Amusement Park in Ohio for possession of heroin. He even admitted to ESPN the Magazine in 2008 that he had raced while high on heroin. Fike went on to complete the NASCAR Road to Recovery program and was reinstated in 2012.
Tyler Walker (2007) – Walker was racing a truck for Bill Davis Racing when he was suspended for violating the NASCAR substance abuse policy in May 2007. He returned to Sprint Cars, even winning the Kings Royal at Eldora in 2011, before getting into more trouble. Walker was arrested in Utah on January 30, 2013 after a high-speed chase on Interstate 15 through Nevada and Arizona. He had to serve a 90 day prison sentence in 2015, followed by a 36 month court ordered supervised probation period for that incident.
Jeremy Mayfield (2009) – Mayfield was suspended by NASCAR in the spring of 2009 after a failed drug test. He was later convicted on two counts of possession of drug paraphernalia and one count for possessing stolen items in January 2014. Over the past several years he has raced several short track events and has been trying to put together a Dirt Late Model program.
A.J. Allmendinger (2012) – Allmendinger was suspended by NASCAR in July 2012 for what would later be identified as amphetamines. He quickly went through NASCAR’s Road to Recovery Program and was reinstated to compete by September. Today, Allmendinger is still a Monster Energy Cup competitor, with one win and 10 top five finishes in his Cup career.
While this suspension is certainly a setback for Gallagher, others have shown that one can bounce back from a suspension if one completes the Road to Recovery Program.