James Stewart ‘free to compete’ in upcoming Motocross races despite failed drug test, FIM suspension

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While the specter of a failed drug test still looms large for James Stewart, his immediate future came a bit more into focus today when MX Sports Pro Racing, organizers of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, issued a statement confirming that he is “free to compete without restrictions” at this weekend’s race in Tennessee and until further notice.

One of the most popular riders in the history of motocross, Stewart came under heavy fire last week when it was revealed that he tested positive for a banned substance more than two months ago after the Seattle round of the AMA Supercross series. Just a few days prior to the news, Stewart had his most dominant Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship race in years, sweeping both of the day’s motos.

The banned substance was confirmed to be a type of amphetamine, which Stewart claims was legitimately prescribed to him by a doctor to treat a long-term medical condition.

As a result of the failed test, Stewart has been provisionally suspended by the FIM – one of the sanctioning bodies of the AMA Supercross series. The resulting controversy around Stewart’s future stems from the fact that the Supercross season ended more than a month ago, and all of the riders are now racing the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship – an entirely separate series governed by completely different organizations which have no affiliation with the FIM or the World Anti-Doping Agency.

MX Sports Pro Racing released the following statement today:

The provisional suspension of James Stewart by the FIM as a result of an alleged anti-doping violation on April 12, 2014, does not at this time involve MX Sports Pro Racing or the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship. At this stage in the results management process, the decision to compete at a National level remains with the athlete, FIM and WADA, as MX Sports Pro Racing is not a Signatory to the WADA Code and does not have the authority to impose a provisional suspension. Our sanctioning body, AMA Pro Racing, has indicated that it will not restrict Stewart from competing in the upcoming Tennessee National and will reevaluate its position pending the final decision of the FIM International Disciplinary Court (CDI). If this position changes we will be notified accordingly. Until then, Mr. Stewart is free to compete without restriction.

In other words, because the infraction occurred while Stewart was racing a different series, the organizers of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship – which does have a drug-testing partnership with the USADA – don’t have the option of levying sanctions against him at the moment. It’s certainly an unprecedented case which has already evoked strong emotions.

Sure to be faced with mixed reactions from the fans in attendance on Saturday, Stewart now must try to shift his focus back to the track as the riders prepare to visit Muddy Creek Raceway. The Yoshimura Suzuki rider is currently third in 450 Class points and holds the momentum after his 1-1 sweep at High Point.

Saturday’s race, the Red Bull Tennessee National, will feature live coverage of the day’s final 450 Class moto on NBC at 3PM E.T. All 450 Class and 250 Class motos will stream live online on ProMotocross.com and NBC Sports Live Extra beginning at 1PM E.T.

Attention NASCAR teams: IMSA drivers available for Daytona!

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NASCAR will be making its debut on the Daytona International Speedway road course next month, and there’s a big fan who’d like to join the historic weekend.

This fan actually has impressive credentials, too — a few thousand laps around the 12-turn, 3.56-mile layout that annually plays host to the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January.

In 2014, the winning GTLM team in the sports car endurance classic included IMSA Porsche driver Nick Tandy, who rabidly has followed NASCAR for more than 30 years since growing up in England.

So why not try racing NASCAR? Especially because Tandy has the weekend of Aug. 14-16 free.

He’s not picky, either — offering up his services on Twitter (as well as those of Porsche teammate Earl Bamber) for an ARCA, Xfinity, trucks or Cup ride.

Tandy’s affinity for American stock-car racing runs deep.

His first trip to the World Center of Racing was as a fan attending the 50th running of the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, 2008. During Rolex testing in January, Tandy, 35, said he hadn’t missed a Cup race on TV in 15 years.

Among his favorite NASCAR drivers: the Earnhardts, Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. When IMSA ran the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course in 2014, Tandy stayed a few extra days at the Brickyard and bought Kyle Busch gear for himself and his children.

He briefly took the stage during a NASCAR weekend last October. After IMSA’s season finale at Road Atlanta, Tandy made a few demonstration laps and a burnout in his No. 911 Porsche before the Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway.

He also has some experience in stock cars, having raced Modified-type grass-roots series on England’s quarter-mile short tracks.

Couple that with a Daytona road course record that includes two consecutive podium class finishes (including last Saturday) and a sports car resume with 13 IMSA victories and an overall win in the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans … and maybe a NASCAR team should take a look.

And Tandy isn’t the only IMSA driver who likely would be available.

Corvette driver Jordan Taylor, who won the 2017 Rolex 24 overall title with Jeff Gordon as a teammate (and the inspiration for his Rodney Sandstrom persona), also tweeted his availability for the weekend on the high banks.

Sports car veteran Andy Lally, a GTD driver with multiple class wins in the Rolex 24 as well as 38 Cup starts (he was the 2011 rookie of the season in NASCAR’s premier series), also hung out his shingle.

There also is AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth (who just won at Daytona last Saturday), the Englishman who teamed with Kyle Busch at the Rolex 24 in January and made an Xfinity start at Mid-Ohio last year with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Many sports car drivers (such as Taylor) already live in Florida, and many are hunkering down in the Sunshine State with IMSA returning to action at Daytona last week and Sebring International Raceway next week. Because of COVID-19-related travel concerns and restrictions, several IMSA stars who live outside the country are riding out the pandemic within a few hours of Daytona with nothing to do.

Why not a weekend at the World Center of Racing?

Over the years, scads of “road-course ringers” (including some Formula One veterans) have tried their hands in stock cars at Sonoma Raceway and Watkins Glen International.

How about considering the many sports car drivers who already have reached victory lane at Daytona by making a few right-hand turns, too?