Denny Hamlin wasn’t being serious when he said 70 percent of NASCAR drivers use Adderall or other ADD medications while racing, he said Friday afternoon.
Hamlin appeared on the popular Barstool Sports “Pardon My Take” podcast with Big Cat and PFT Commenter on Thursday, where they asked him about using medications that would enhance concentration. The driver then suggested nearly three-quarters of the field was using an amphetamine, which is the type of drug only permissible in NASCAR with a prescription.
But Hamlin said he was just throwing out a number.
“I think anyone who has listened to their podcast knows they are funny and joking around and not serious whatsoever,” Hamlin told JeffGluck.com and ESPN.com outside his motorhome at Daytona International Speedway. “They make jokes about a lot of things.
“I literally said we get drug-tested all the time. When they asked me how many (drivers), I said I didn’t know, and they said, ‘Just give us a number,’ and I joked around and gave them a number that has no fact behind it. It’s getting blown up.”
Here’s the transcript of the exchange:
PMT: Do you think that there’s a significant amount of NASCAR drivers that take like Adderall or some sort of ADD medicine to try to focus more?
Hamlin: Mmm…I would say yes.
PMT: Ooh. You gotta put a percentage on it. It’s the old Jose Canseco Rule. You gotta be like, “90 percent of NASCAR drivers do this.”
Hamlin: Seventy percent.
PMT: Wow! OK, that’s a headline grab.
Sure enough, Pardon My Take tweeted a graphic a big number 70 and the caption: Does NASCAR have a drug problem?
Does NASCAR have a drug problem? pic.twitter.com/wFnHcOeXeR
— Pardon My Take (@PardonMyTake) February 16, 2018
NASCAR was furious over the comment because it frequently drug-tests competitors and has a very strict substance abuse policy. AJ Allmendinger was suspended in 2012 and later lost his ride for taking Adderall.
NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell tweeted Hamlin’s comment was a “ridiculous statement.”
In a separate statement, NASCAR said if any driver is found to test positive for a substance taken without a prescription, that person would be indefinitely suspended.
“Simply put, NASCAR is confident in its drug-testing program,” NASCAR said.
Hamlin and O’Donnell then met in the NASCAR hauler, where Hamlin made the point he was “doing a podcast with a lackadaisical group of guys that have fun talking about sports in a non-real way.” The driver said it was better for him and O’Donnell to meet in person to sort it out because “we can become brash at times through text.”
So does Hamlin really think 70 percent of drivers use Adderall?
“Realistically, no,” he said. “Probably not. We get drug-tested all the time and NASCAR has a zero (tolerance) policy for anything that’s not prescription.”
Hamlin told reporters to “consider the source” next time, because he wants to continue to do fun shows.
But he also acknowledged his role in the matter.
“(NASCAR officials) don’t want us giving out false numbers, for sure,” he said. “So I personally need to probably be a little careful not doing that and playing into it. But I still like doing stuff that’s easygoing and not serious.”