What Spencer Gallagher’s suspension means for his team, NASCAR future

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Alan Cavanna, Austin Dillon, and Drew Blickensderfer explain NASCAR's drug testing policy and what Spencer Gallagher's failed test means for him and his team.

- Shannon, there's two significant parts to this-- the racing side of it, and the off-track side. Let's start with the racing side. Under the current system, the win at Talladega would put Spencer Gallagher in the Xfinity Series playoff.

But, since he will now miss races due to his suspension, NASCAR will not grant any sort of playoff waiver for Gallagher. So he's out. Also, the Dash 4 Cash-- since Gallagher won't race this weekend, he will not be eligible, so Ryan Sieg moves into that position.

Off the track, there are still some questions about the timing of the test. Was it before the race? Was it after the victory? I did ask NASCAR, and NASCAR told me they do not reveal when the test was taken, only saying that officials were notified of the infraction on Tuesday. And they told me they are confident, though, in the system they have in place, and that it's a safe one, and that it provides a level playing field for the entire competition. Shannon?

- Thanks, Alan. So, certainly, a story that we're going to be following. And, you know, hard news to hear, when you come out, especially with how much excitement you saw from Spencer Gallagher, this past weekend, after winning that race. Your thoughts, when this news was announced today?

- Well, you hate it for Spencer, personally, you know. He went from the highs of highs on Saturday afternoon to the lows the lows. And that's unfortunate.

But the other thing you think about is all the families that are involved with, you know, GMS. You know, it's-- it's a family-run organization. Spencer's father is the owner.

His father sponsors the car. So there is a lot of people relying on Spencer and the Gallagher family for their jobs and for their livelihood. And you hope that doesn't diminish or take away from those guys.

- Yeah. And it's-- it's-- it's a bad situation, you know. I hate it for Spencer, you know. He doesn't want to be out of that race car.

The guys at the shop are probably wondering what's going on, right now. And you just hate it for him. And I was able to win GMS's first truck race.

And, I think, Maury Gallagher-- of the world, of him. And I think he'll keep going and do whatever it takes to keep that team on track. Mike Beam does a good job, over there.

And they're running strong. They've got fast race cars. So, at least, the competition side is solid.

- Yeah, and as Alan said, when you look at it from a competition standpoint, it's disappointing, because the win on Saturday would have locked him into the playoffs. We now know he's not going to get the waiver and won't have an opportunity, regardless of if and when he comes back, to go out and run for the championship. What is the procedure, from NASCAR?

We know, in the preseason, when you get your license as a competitor, whether it be driver, crew chief, crew member, everyone has to go through a drug test. From then on, everything is random. Take us through that process, a little bit.

- So, getting your hard card, you have to take a drug test at the beginning of the year. And, then, it's pretty much random, throughout that rest of the process. I mean, I've been random drug tested throughout the year.

It could be from any time. You just don't know. And it usually happens during the practice session.

They come tell your crew chief, or whoever it may be, hey, Austin's got to take a drug test by this time. You have to go, you know, fail your drug test. And you get to sign off on everything. And it sends off, and, I guess, you get notified if it's not good.

- Yeah, one thing that-- that's really good about the industry is we use a third party to test everybody. And I was, actually, the random on Sunday. So Sunday morning, a NASCAR official came into our hauler, and, kind of, tapped me on the shoulder, and said, Drew, you've got to go take a drug test before 11 o'clock, at the infield care center.

So I went down to the infield care center. You fill it out with a completely third party. You're-- NASCAR's not in the room, not doing anything.

I'm in there with other crew members. They get all my information and you take the test. And that's happened to me twice, this year. It could happen, you know, four or five times, throughout the year. You never know when your number might get called.

- And the process has evolved, over the years. Do you guys-- I mean, you feel like it is where it needs to be, right now?

- I think so. You know, I was fortunate. I was I was a Big 10 athlete, and it's very similar to what the NCAA and the Big 10 did when they tested us, throughout the season.

You never know, exactly, when you're going to get tested. You knew at the beginning of the year, and, then, throughout the year, it could be random. So I think the testing policy at NASCAR is like any other professional sport.

- I agree. It's totally the right way to do it. It's random.

It's by computer draw, I think. And you might get called. You just never know when it's going to be.

- You mentioned the third-party, Drew, facilitating the test. They, then, report those results back to NASCAR. And a driver does not have to go through the Road to Recovery program, but, if they want to be reinstated, they must do so.

And that is done by an outside treatment professional. They set up all of your clinics and any counseling that you need to get through that process. And we have heard, with Spencer not in the car, this weekend at Dover, it will be Johnny Sauter, now, doing double duty. Of course, he drives for GMS in the Camping World Truck Series.

- And, then, they'll have the two weeks off before they go to Charlotte, for that weekend.

- Yep.

- Don't think I'm not going to ask you-- a Big 10 athlete-- that you had to sneak that in, right? You had to sneak that in, right?