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Substance Abuse Behind Them; Brian Rose, Shane Hmiel Back Racing

April 4, 2010

Shane Hmiel back racing; Brian¬†Rose back in NASCAR: Former NASCAR driver Shane Hmiel won a USAC Midget race last week at Hickory Motor Speedway. He returned to race again the next night, turning the fastest speed in qualifying and hoping for another $3,000 winner’s payday, only to see rain wash away those hopes. A handful of people milled around the pits and maybe a few hundred people sat in the grandstands as Hmiel and his one crewman worked on his car. It was a long way from pit road at Bristol Motor Speedway, the site of his last Sprint Cup race five years ago. It was a long way from victory lane at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, where he won a NASCAR Truck Series race in 2004. If all had gone right in Shane Hmiel’s world, he’d be making more than $3,000 a race just for waking up in the morning. But things didn’t go right for Hmiel, who is bipolar and has a drug habit. “I was 25 years old,” Hmiel said about where he was five years ago as a NASCAR Busch Series regular driving for Braun Racing. “I could have been one of the next guys, know what I mean? I pissed it all away twice, and nobody needs to do that. Nobody needs to put their family through it. It doesn’t bother me because I understand it. I feel like I’m just here. I’m living, going day to day. I’m just excited to race like I get to now.”

Hmiel has been back racing for three years, but not in NASCAR, where he’s been banned from competing and banished from the garage for repeatedly violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy. His first indefinite suspension lasted for eight races after he tested positive for marijuana in 2003. After being reinstated, he was indefinitely suspended again for testing positive for cocaine and marijuana in May 2005. He failed another test in early 2006 while on suspension and has been banned for life. Hmiel, son of longtime NASCAR mechanic and current Earnhardt Ganassi Racing competition director Steve Hmiel, isn’t trying to get back into NASCAR. He’s trying to become an accomplished racer again, a champion. It’s better than being on drugs, or possibly having his life end while on drugs. Hmiel said that when he first returned to the track, he noticed people staring at him. They thought he had just been hiding out for a few years and wasn’t truly drug free, he said. Today, he says he has a stack of drug test results that prove he is clean and believes that about 90 percent of his competitors believe him. He talks to people, he says, who want to talk about their own battles with addiction. Hmiel says he doesn’t have the urge to use drugs anymore but says he won’t conquer his addiction unless he never uses again. Hmiel also says he’s a much better race-car driver now. He’s wrecked fewer cars in three years, he says, than he did in three months of stock-car racing.(full story and quotes at SceneDaily and also at SceneDaily: Shane Hmiel says NASCAR’s new substance abuse policy would have helped him get treatment sooner.

Brian Rose, a once-promising young race car driver, will be behind the wheel of a NASCAR racing machine [failed to qualify for the Nashville Truck Series race] for the first time since he was indefinitely suspended for violating the league’s substance abuse policy in the spring of 2003. He’s back with Rick Ware Racing, the same team he was driving for when he was banned by the league. But he is not the same person we knew then. When we last saw him, Rose was a broken, drug-addicted 23-year-old. Sponsorship woes had limited his opportunities to race. In 2001-02, he competed in 36 NASCAR Truck races, including stints with top-shelf team owners Bobby Hamilton and Billy Ballew, earning five top-10 finishes. In 2003 he rejoined Ware, with whom he’d started his career, and raced in two of the season’s first four events, finishing 14th at Darlington and 24th at Martinsville. The other two weekends he was stuck at home, forced to watch others race on TV. See full article at ESPN.com.
AND NASCAR has lifted the indefinite suspension of Brian Rose, who was suspended in April 2003 for failing to take a drug test.(SceneDaily)(4-3-2010)(4-3-2010)

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