Spencer Gallagher is now a “guy.” Unfortunately for 28-year old from Las Vegas, he will be known going forward as “that guy that tested positive for drugs.” It does not matter that we don’t know what he tested positive for, how many times he may have used, and it does not matter how much of a good guy he may be. This will stay with him the rest of his life.
What also will seem to matter less is his victory last weekend in the Xfinity Series at Talladega. Spencer Gallagher appeared to really be breaking out this season with a pair of top fives and five top tens. Not bad. Not bad at all. That just got shoved to the back burner.
Spencer Gallagher is now a cautionary tale. One of my new recent ventures is teaching an elective class in broadcasting at a local high school. In just one academic year, I have seen good kids with promising futures compromise that potential for a few moments of reckless fun. One was a kid who was a star running back poised to be “the man” next season, but with a second drug violation, he has been expelled. He’ll play elsewhere next year, of that I’m sure. What the young man will struggle to get back is his reputation.
For Spencer Gallagher, it will be worse. The news of his violation is internationally known. His team is reliant on corporate money to fund his venture. It’s not to say he will be avoided like the plague, but if you have a choice between Gallagher and a talented driver who’s kept his figurative nose clean, who are you going to choose? Can he afford this in this day and age of scarce funding?
What’s even more vexing in the case of Spencer Gallagher is the fact he’s not a teenager. At 28, he had to know the risk he was taking when he took whatever he did, even if we’re not talking a recreational drug, but something like Adderall or whatever the case may be.
Fortunately, we tend to be a forgiving society. Furthermore, it’s not like he was driving drunk and hurt somebody, or committed domestic violence. When I was a little younger than Gallagher, I did my share of illicit substances. I grew out of it, and hopefully Gallagher thinks twice before facing the same temptation in the future. While this could hamper the driving career of Spencer Gallagher, it’s not like he has made himself unemployable forever.
It’s up to him. He can be another AJ Allmendinger- a driver who learned his lesson and has gone on to success since- or he can become a Jeremy Mayfield. He can write his own future. It’s all his. I wish him well.