Sikeston racer's future in limbo after drug charge

Saturday, February 16, 2002

A promising season on the NASCAR Busch Series is in limbo for Sikeston, Mo., racer Sammy Potashnick.

Potashnick, second in the Winston West Series and scheduled to compete on this year's Busch Series, was arrested in Flagler Co., Fla., Thursday and charged with possession of crack cocaine and prescription drugs without a prescription. He was taken into custody after a sheriff's deputy stopped him at about 4:30 a.m. after what the deputy described as a near head-on collision.

Potashnick, 27, planned to debut in the Jay Robinson Inc. Team's No. 49 car in the Busch Series event next weekend in Rockingham, N.C. Robinson on Friday disputed a news report on BGNRacing.com that Potashnick was dropped from the team.

"It's easy to see a police report like that and assume a lot of things, but it's hard to derive a whole lot out of that at this point," Robinson said from Daytona Beach, Fla, where Kirk Schelmerdine will drive one of his team's two cars in today's Busch Series event. Potashnick wasn't scheduled to race this weeked.

"There's a lot of speculation going on right now about what's happened," Robinson said. "There's a lot being said, but I don't know what's fact or fiction at this point. Right now I have to focus on what we're doing this weekend at Daytona. I've talked to Sammy several times today and we'll talk more about this."

Robinson said Potashnick, released on bond, was en route to Charlotte, N.C., late Friday and could not be reached.

Potashnick made his mark in NASCAR's Winston West Series, where he's earned more than $12,000 this year in his own No. 65 Chevrolet. He finished second in his last event Feb. 2 at Phoenix.

Deputies said Potashnick was carrying prescription drugs without a prescription bottle and had cocaine in his rental car. A convinction on the charge would violate NASCAR's substance abuse policy, which could lead to his removal from the series.

A spokesperson at Lucas Oil, the California company that sponsors Potashnick's Winston West series team, declined to comment Friday on whether the arrest will affect their sponsorship.

Sunshine showings

Local short-track racers made trips to Florida for an early start to the season.

The most popular Sunshine State stop for local drivers was Southern Raceway in Milton, Fla., which hosted the two-day Winternationals for the modified series last weekend. Greg King of Sikeston, Mo., had the best two-day showing after he finished 11th in the Friday event, but did not qualify for the Saturday portion of the series. Larry Hull of Old Appleton, Mo., finished 24th Friday and 23rd Saturday. Jeremy Conner (seventh) of Essex, Mo., Jared Wagster (fifth) of Portageville, Mo., Robert Powers (third) of Malden, Mo., and Shawn Haynes (15th, 17th) of Malden also qualified for at least one day of the event.

Dates to remember

  • Auto Tire and Parts Racepark's banquet and rules meeting will be Saturday, March 2, at Holiday Inn in Cape Girardeau. Tickets are $15 each and include dinner, drinks and door prizes. Info: Doug Friese, (573) 335-7463.

  • Malden Speedway begins its season with practice March 23 and March 30, followed by racing April 5. Late models, pure streets, hobbies, cruisers and modifieds will compete weekly, with sprints competing at least once a month.

    Jamie Hall is the sports editor of the Southeast Missourian

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