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Austin Wayne Self apologizes for failed drug test; NASCAR explains process

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NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Austin Wayne Self apologized Tuesday for failing a random drug test that led to NASCAR indefinitely suspending him Monday.

In a post on his official Twitter account, Self did not state what led to the failed drug test. Nor did NASCAR reveal what type of substance was found in his system.

Self said the drug test took place earlier this season at Daytona. He finished ninth at Daytona (Feb. 15) and was 27th at Atlanta (Feb. 23) and 15th at Las Vegas (March 1). AM Racing announced before the Martinsville race (March 23) that Self was being replaced by Bubba Wallace, who also drove for the team at Texas last weekend.

A NASCAR spokesperson told NBC Sports that once the sanctioning body became aware of a positive test from Self, he was asked to “stand down” from competing at Martinsville and Texas, and was given the option of requesting additional testing on the initial sample or waive that and accept any penalty.

Drug Free Sport in Kansas City, Missouri, collects the samples for NASCAR. Those samples are sent for testing to the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory (SMRTL) in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The NASCAR spokesperson explained the time gap from the initial test to the notification of Self through Monday’s suspension.

Because (SMRTL) tests athletes in Major League Baseball, the NFL and a number of other sports and clients, there’s an expected amount of time from sample collection to actual results; it’s not instantaneous and we know that,” the NASCAR spokesperson said. “Ideally, it would be great to get a confirmed test result within 24 hours, but that’s just not realistic. We’re very happy with our partners, SMRTL and Drug Free Sport. They’re the best in the business as far as we’re concerned, they do a good job for us and there’s a reason why just about all the professional sports leagues use them.”

Dr. Doug Aukerman, NASCAR’s Medical Review Officer, informed both NASCAR and Self of the initial positive test result prior to the Martinsville race. Upon being told, Self was given 72 hours to decide to have another test from the remaining sample or to waive that option.

The NASCAR spokesperson said the 23-year-old driver has entered NASCAR’s “Road To Recovery” program of mandatory follow-up testing and education. The spokesperson also said those who have entered the Road To Recovery have returned to the sport in as little as six weeks.

“Once (the Road To Recovery administrator has) determined that the individual has sufficiently recovered from the situation and is confident that he or she will be able to perform without fear of getting involved with the substance again, they notify us and the competitor is allowed to request reinstatement,” the NASCAR spokesperson told NBC Sports. “We’re very happy with our policy, we believe our policy is fair to competitors and creates an environment that keeps the safety of competitors and everyone first and foremost. As important, if we do have someone who has an issue, we do provide a path back to the sport for them.”

Here is Self’s apology that he posted on social media:

To each of my fans, team partners, crew members, and fellow NASCAR members, I ask for your grace and understanding in this difficult season of adversity, and ask that you would accept my apology for what has happened. It is an honor to be involved in a premier sport so great as ours, and I am truly crushed for what has happened.

It has been incredibly disheartening since learning of the results from the random drug test taken earlier this season at Daytona, through our sanctioning body, and for the news announced (Monday).

The news and positive results have caught me as a surprise. Being a driver, I am expected to be a steward for our sport – someone who pays attention to even the most minute of details, just as our race team does with our trucks in competition. Moving forward I promise to those who will follow this journey, that I will aim to the utmost of my ability to do a better job at paying close attention to what I consume, and allow into my body, as an athlete.

I will work closely with NASCAR through this process to learn more about what has happened, and to ensure that I am able to return to competition as quickly as possible.

Moving forward, I would be grateful to have your prayers as I prepare for the days ahead. I take comfort in knowing that God has a plan for the through this, and that as 2 Corinthians 12:9-10 explains, will come through this stronger ready to tackle what lies ahead. Thank you for your support and understanding.”

Shortly after Self’s suspension was announced Monday, the team said it was working on finding a replacement in Self’s absence. The next Truck Series race is May 3 at Dover International Speedway.

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Truck Series driver Austin Wayne Self suspended indefinitely

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NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Austin Wayne Self has been suspended indefinitely by NASCAR for violating the sport’s Substance Abuse Penalty (SAP) policy, covered in the Behavior category of Sections 12.1 and 19 of the NASCAR Rule Book.

The 23-year-old Austin, Texas native has 66 career starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, with a career-best finish of second place in the 2017 season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.

Self competed in three races this season, with his last start being a 15th place finish at Las Vegas. Bubba Wallace drove for Self in the last two Truck Series races (Martinsville and Texas).

Austin Wayne Self drives for his family’s team, AM Racing, owned by his father Tim Self.

A team spokesman issued the following statement:

“AM Racing respects NASCAR’s decision and will follow their direction. We expect Austin Wayne Self to return to the seat as quickly as possible. AM Racing will continue to operate as normal with a determination of a driver lineup set in the coming weeks. We expect to emerge from this challenge as a stronger team.”

Self issued the following statement a day after the announcement:

There was one other penalty issued unrelated to Self: John Klausmeier, crew chief for Aric Almirola in the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford in the Cup Series, has been fined $10,000 for violating Sections 10.9.10.4: Tires and Wheels — Lug nut(s) not properly installed..

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Bubba Wallace entered in Truck race at Martinsville

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AM Racing announced Wednesday that Bubba Wallace will drive the No. 22 entry in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race Saturday at Martinsville Speedway.

AM Racing tweeted: “In an effort to advance the performance component of our program, we will be putting a different Chevrolet driver in the seat of the No. 22 Chevrolet Silverado for Martinsville Speedway this weekend.”

AM Racing stated that Wallace “has been selected with very specific objectives regarding program feedback and development. His record at the track speaks for itself.”

Wallace, who will be on Wednesday’s NASCAR America (5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN), has two wins in four starts in the Truck series at Martinsville. He won there in 2013 and in 2014. Both times he won driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Austin Wayne Self had driven the No. 22 entry in the first three Truck races of the season. He finished ninth at Daytona and followed that with a 27th-place finish at Atlanta and a 15th-place finish in Las Vegas. He is 12th in the points.

Justin Haley wins Truck Series playoff opener in overtime

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Justin Haley took advantage of a last turn incident involving teammates Todd Gilliland and Noah Gragson to win Sunday’s Truck Series playoff opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in overtime.

Haley took the lead coming to the checkered flag after Gragson, running in second, caught Gilliland and made contact as he tried to make the pass. The contact sent both trucks around.

Haley, one of the eight playoff drivers, claimed his second win of the season.

“That was amazing,” Haley told Fox Sports 1. “I knew going in there Gragson was probably going to do something not the smartest. That was going to line us up pretty good. … I saw it coming and I knew we were in the catbird’s seat.”

The top five was completed John Hunter Nemechek, Brett Moffitt, Timothy Peters and Matt Crafton.

Gragson, a playoff driver, finished ninth. Gilliland placed 11th.

Gilliland told FS1 he expected the contact from Gragson.

“Should never have let him get to me,” Gilliland said. “Should have just given him the inside, maybe let him wreck himself, I don’t know. He’s done that to me on like five or six road courses. It sucks. We had the fastest truck and we didn’t win again. I’m going to have to talk to him for sure.”

Gilliland, in his rookie year, added: “I’d go fight him right now, but I can’t. I just need to get my emotions in check and go talk to him. But I’m extremely mad.”

Gragson took the blame for the incident, saying “That one’s on me.”

“I wasn’t trying to take him out,” Gragson told FS1. “Was expecting him just to give me a little bit more room on the bottom. It just wasn’t there. Wasn’t meant to be.”

Gragson also said: “I apologize to Todd, I apologize to the 4 team, apologize to everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports. We’re in the playoffs and I’m trying to get a win. I was squirting the throttle right there in-between (Turns) 9 and 10. … Just wasn’t quite there. Just unfortunate. That one’s on me.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Noah Gragson

STAGE 2 WINNER: Noah Gragson

MORE: Race results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Timothy Peters scored a top five in relief of Spencer Gallagher … Brett Moffitt placed third after starting the day in 17th. … Matt Crafton earned his first top five in four races … Austin Hill placed eight for his fourth top 10 of the year.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Austin Wayne Self brought out the final two cautions of the race for incidents. He finished 21st … Roger Reuse placed 27th after wrecking out on Lap 35.

NOTABLE: Jesse Iwuji placed 25th, two laps down in his series debut.

WHAT’S NEXT: World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 9 p.m. ET on Sept. 14 on Fox Sports 1

Johnny Sauter wins Truck Series race at Texas

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Johnny Sauter won his fourth race of 2018 and for the fifth time at Texas Motor Speedway by holding off pole sitter Stewart Friesen in a green-white-checkered finish to end the PPG 400.

Sauter started the race in fifth and managed to stay in contact with the leaders, but did not take the lead until the final stages of the race. Using a combination of fuel and tire conservation, he led 51 laps on the way to victory lane.

Stewart Friesen led the field to green from the pole, but got loose in the outside groove early in stage one. He fought back throughout the night – winning stage one and challenging for the lead late in the race. A determined charge in the final 20 laps put him in position to challenge Sauter. Unfortunately he got hung up behind Justin Haley on the final lap and could not get close enough to make the pass for the lead.

The biggest incident of the night came on lap 109. Battling for a position in the top 10, Dalton Sargent and Myatt Snider got together while trying to use Jennifer Jo Cobb as a pick. Snyder made hard contact with the wall and retired on lap 105 in 23rd. Sargent remained on the lead lap and finished just outside the top 10 in 11th. 

STAGE 1 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

STAGE 2 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

HOW SAUTER WON: Sauter stayed out on old tires with 55 laps remaining and stretched his fuel to race to the end.

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Enfinger inherited the lead when Todd Gilliland pitted near the end of the second segment and scored his first stage win of the season; he continued to battle among the leaders before finishing fourth. Friesen matched his career best finish of second; his previous runner up finish came on the dirt track of Eldora Speedway last July. Justin Haley gave his teammate Sauter a huge push on the final restart before getting overhauled by Friesen on the final lap; Haley finished third to score his sixth career top five.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Ben Rhodes developed an engine problem toward the end of stage one and lost multiple laps while trying to diagnose the issue; he finished three laps off the pace in 16th. Justin Fontaine hit the wall hard on lap six and pancaked the right side of his truck – finishing 30th in the 32-car field. Driftwood Texas driver Bayley Currey got loose in the outside lane on lap 11 while running 18th and hit the turn four wall; he finished 29th. With 10 laps remaining in stage one, Brett Moffitt got loose under Austin Wayne Self and spun into the turn one wall. Moffitt brought out a second yellow when he almost spun 19 laps from the end before finishing 18th. Fighting to stay on the lead lap, Bo LeMastus made contact with Norm Benning, cut a tire, and hit the wall with six to go in stage two. LeMastus finished 26th; Benning finished 21st.

NOTABLE: Gilliland received his high school diploma in a pre-race ceremony before climbing into the lead at the start of the Rattlesnake 400.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I’m speechless at this point; I don’t even know what to say anymore,” Sauter said from victory lane on FoxSports 1. “This is a lot of fun. Five wins at Texas – I feel very, very lucky … It’s all about getting that clean start. I knew that (Friesen) was going to be aggressive – obviously he’s hungry for his first win and so I just timed it right.”

WHAT’S NEXT: M&Ms 200 at Iowa Speedway at 7:00 p.m. ET on June 16 on FS1.