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NASCAR Penalizes Harvick, Crew in Melee

September 8, 2003

Kevin Harvick was fined $35,000 and put on probation Monday, and two of his crew members were suspended for one race for their roles in the melee at Richmond International Raceway.

In all, NASCAR penalized Harvick and five members of his team, along with Pat Tryson, Ricky Rudd’s crew chief, for ``actions detrimental to stock car racing.″

Harvick was placed on probation until Dec. 31, while crew members Mike Scearce and Gene Pasquale were suspended until Sept. 17, meaning they will miss Sunday’s race in Loudon, N.H.

Harvick crew members Kirk Almquist and Ken Barber were each fined $2,500 and placed on probation until Dec. 31, and Tryson was fined $5,000 for their parts in the fight Saturday night in Richmond, Va.

With nine laps to go in the Chevrolet 400, Harvick was running second but hit the wall after being nudged from behind by Rudd, who went on to finish third.

Harvick, who lost a possible sixth straight top-five finish, was furious after winding up 16th. He drove his battered car to pit road and banged into the side of Rudd’s car.

Several of Harvick’s crew members also ran onto pit road and began banging on Rudd’s car, mangling the hood. Harvick climbed on the roof of his car and began shouting at Rudd, who remained in his car.

Officials quickly calmed the situation, eventually ushering both teams to NASCAR’s hauler.

Rudd acknowledged he hit Harvick’s car but insisted he did not wreck the other driver on purpose.

Harvick’s team owner, Richard Childress, apologized Monday.

``Emotions can run high and that is part of what fuels a driver’s and crew’s desire to be the best,″ he said. ``Sometimes, though, in the heat of battle, those emotions can get the best of you and things happen that you regret later.″

Childress said he also called Rudd’s team, Wood Brothers Ford, to apologize and offer to pay for the damage to its car.

The melee in Richmond was just the latest ugliness at a NASCAR race. Three weeks ago, Jimmy Spencer was suspended for a week and placed on probation after punching Kurt Busch in the face. Tony Stewart was put on probation last season for hitting a photographer at the Brickyard 400.

It was not the first run-in with NASCAR for Harvick, who was suspended from a race at Martinsville in April 2002, fined $35,000 and placed on probation until the end of that year for rough driving.

In addition to the Winston Cup penalties, NASCAR fined two Busch Series drivers and their crew chiefs, and Trucks Series driver Bobby Hamilton for various other post-race fights in Richmond.

Shane Hmiel and Jason Keller were fined $5,000 each and placed on probation until Dec. 31 for fighting after Friday night’s Busch Series race. Their crew chiefs, Gere Kennon and Steve Addington, were fined $10,000 and placed on probation for the rest of the year.

Hamilton was fined $10,000 and placed on probation for the rest of the year for intentionally hitting Brendan Gaughn’s truck after Thursday night’s race.

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