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.