News & Analysis

Too little, too late?

On Saturday afternoon, April 2, right after the final qualifying session for Top Fuel at the SummitRacing.com NHRA Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas, Top Fuel dragster veteran driver Mike Strasburg was given some news that would rock his and the racing community’s world.  Strasburg was being suspended for one year and would be fined, $2,500 for failing to comply with statute 1.7 Substance Abuse Policy under the NHRA’s Rule Book.

In essence Strasburg had 24 hours to provide an independent testing company on hand at Las Vegas under the direction of the NHRA with an adequate urine sample and breathalyzer for screening purposes for both alcohol and a list of illicit drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, opiates, and amphetamines, to name just a few. 

Strasburg was given the notice at 3:05 p.m. on Friday and had 24 hours to complete the screening process. He was actually standing in the testing facility at 3:05 p.m. on Saturday, attempting to give a second sample when he was “timed out” by the screening facility. He was unable to provide a large enough sample in one stream to match the criteria set by the testing agency there at Las Vegas. For that he was suspended for one year of driving and must pay the $2500 fine.

On Thursday afternoon, April 7, Mike took a few moments out of his busy day running B&J Racing Transmissions in Lindon, Utah, to talk to DRO staffer Brian Losness for this brief interview.

: Mike, having had a few days to think about what happened at Vegas, where is your mind at?

Mike Strasburg: You know, I don’t really know yet. I wish there was a way to come to some sort of an agreement, but I think NHRA has made their decision already. The only thing I can do is take the punishment or file an appeal. I know I should have been there earlier to do the test, but I did go there two different times and tried. It was over 90 degrees and I didn’t drink enough water over those first few days we were there, so that didn’t help. But I did try and I did give them a sample before the run (on Saturday), but they require two vials, and there is some confusion there, they give you one cup and then split it into two vials.

:  So there is a line on their vial and you have to fill it to their line?

MS: Yes you fill it to the line, and they dump it into two separate vials and the reason for that is if one fails, you have the option to have the second sample tested, and they would not accept one vial (amount). I waited there as long as I could till it was time to run to run our (Top Fuel) car and we were the third pair. I gave him (the testing administrator) what I could, he dumped it into the testing vial, saw there was only one vial (sample) there, and he dumped it out and threw the vial away. I ran down, made my last qualifying run, had my wife waiting at the turn out on the scooter, got out of the car, threw my helmet in the seat and went right back down there (testing area), spent twenty minutes there trying to give them more. I drank two bottles of their water beforehand and drank another right after I got back from the run. I was able to give them another, but by then it was five after three on Saturday. They told me to turn in what I had; I did and it was enough for one vial. They said you need two, dumped it out, and said you’re gone, you’re out of here for a year.

: You were working on how many cars at Vegas this year?

MS: Our Top Fuel car, the alcohol car that Roger Bateman was driving for YNOT Racing, and then the Pro Mod cars. I was at Knowles’ (Mike Knowles “Blown Money” Pro Mod) three times changing transmission ratios for him. Plus all of our (B&J Racing Transmissions) customers’ work. 

With our car things didn’t go very smoothly. We had to change the motor and the new block we put in was decked, and we were scrambling trying to find the right piston stagger for this motor. In hindsight, I should have just parked my car and went down there and spent the day sitting there (at the testing facility).