A suspension for a positive drug test nearly cost Shane Hmiel his careerin NASCAR.
During 2003, in the middle of the most productive season of his youngBusch Series career, NASCAR suspended Shane Hmiel indefinitely forfailing a drug test. In a sponsor-driven culture where a squeaky cleanimage is a requirement, drug suspension is paramount to a death sentencefor most drivers.
Hmiel, however, isn't just any driver. Encouraged by his friends,members of the racing community, and his family--including his father,longtime NASCAR crew chief and team manager Steve Hmiel--Shane Hmielfought his way back to a clean lifestyle and a regular seat in the No.15 Billy Ballew Motorsports NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series entry thisseason.
To his credit, Hmiel hasn't ducked the media or tried to put a 'spin' onthe events surrounding his suspension from the sport. He candidlydiscusses his career ups and downs in this SCR interview. We think youwill find his a story of perseverance, self-belief and an inner drivethat transcends the racetrack.
Name: Shane Riley Hmiel
Date of birth: May 15, 1980
Hometown: Pleasant Garden, North Carolina
Family: Single; parents Steve and Lisa; brother Tyler
Racing Involvement: Driver in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series,2004; Busch Series competitor for 2002 and 2003 seasons; won twice, had13 top 10s, finished fifth in points and earned Rookie of the Year inNASCAR Goody's Dash Series, 2001; had successful run in Late Models onshort tracks in North Carolina.
Hmiel and crew chief Ritchie Wauters have maintained a top 15 TruckSeries standing for muc
SCR: At Indianapolis Raceway Park in August, 2003, you won thepole, led the most laps and staged an epic NASCAR Busch Series battlewith Brian Vickers. He went on to win and you finished fourth. What doyou remember about that race?
HMIEL: I remember every lap like it was just yesterday. It wastwo young guys who grew up racing on the short tracks together. Thatrace was a really good race for my team. We weren't an established team;we weren't a Hendrick Motorsports or anything like that. We were racingout of George deBidart's pocket and to race with a team like Brian'sthat had $6 or $7 million to spend just showed how good of a team wewere right then. There are still people who come to me and say that wasthe greatest race they've ever seen.
SCR: Vickers went on to win the Busch title and get a Cup ride atHendrick Motorsports after that win at IRP. Meanwhile, the wheels cameoff for you about a month later when you were suspended indefinitely fora violation of NASCAR's Drug Policy. How were you notified?
HMIEL: I got a phone call saying there was some stuff in mysystem that shouldn't be there. They came to me after the Richmond raceand told me they wanted to test me. They were randomly testing peoplethen and when they asked, I said, 'sure, no problem.' I was surprised asanyone that they wanted to test me.