St. Petersburg Times Online: Sports
Place an Ad Calendars Classified Forums Sports Weather

printer version


Top teams bury the hatchet

By JOANNE KORTH, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 16, 2003

DAYTONA BEACH -- Everything is lovey-dovey again between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the drivers at Richard Childress Racing.

Those nasty things Junior said Thursday? Aw, he didn't mean them.

"It was a little asinine, the way I was acting in here the other day," Earnhardt said.

After winning his 125-mile qualifying race, Earnhardt accused RCR teammates Jeff Green and Kevin Harvick of working against each other at times last season. He said the drivers might not appreciate the opportunities they have driving for Childress.

Childress was a longtime friend of his father's and owner of the black No. 3 car in which the late Dale Earnhardt won six of his seven Winston Cup championships before being killed in the 2001 Daytona 500.

Earnhardt Jr. mended fences with Green and Harvick before the driver introductions for Saturday's Busch Grand National Koolerz 300, in which they all competed.

"He explained to me what he said," Harvick said. "Unfortunately it got turned into something bigger. He apologized that it got out of hand."

Today's 500 is shaping up to be a contest between RCR and Dale Earnhardt Inc. The first two rows are comprised of RCR's Green and Robby Gordon and DEI's Earnhardt and Michael Waltrip.

"My point was that I feel like if me and Michael team up, everybody else on the track will just be battling for third," Earnhardt said. "I didn't intentionally want to take a stab at any one driver or group of drivers. I wasn't in the best mood that day, either. But that don't matter. I run my mouth a little bit too much."

MIXED SIGNALS: Reaction to the penalty, or lack thereof, issued by NASCAR to Rusty Wallace's team for using an illegal carburetor in his 125-mile qualifier was a hot topic in the Winston Cup garage.

Some thought NASCAR was too lenient in disqualifying him from his fourth-place finish and fining crew chief Bill Wilburn $10,000 but not docking championship or owner points.

At the end of 2002, NASCAR took a black-and-white approach to infractions, penalizing teams 25 points regardless of intent.

"I thought it would have been a little bit stiffer penalty, myself," four-time champion Jeff Gordon said. "Usually, any time you're messing with a carburetor intake or restrictor plate for one of these races, it's severe. I thought it was a little inconsistent."

Late last season championship contender Mark Martin was stripped of 25 points for an illegal spring that competitors agreed likely gave him no competitive advantage. Martin's owner, Jack Roush, was livid at the time.

Saturday, he was calm.

"NASCAR is going to do whatever it wants to do when it suits their purpose, without regard to precedent," Roush said. "I have no way to control it. There's no reason I should get myself upset about it any more than I already have."

KELLER UNINJURED: A fiery crash with two laps left in the BGN race sent Jason Keller to a nearby hospital for precautionary tests.

Keller, whose car was hit broadside and burst into flames, had a CT scan for a possible concussion at Halifax Medical Center.

Tests showed nothing wrong, and he was released.

SNEAK PREVIEW: Things got dicey in the final Winston Cup practice between Earnhardt Jr. and Gordon.

Junior nudged Gordon's back bumper, though neither driver lost control of his car.

"It's getting down to crunch time, and everything is getting exciting," Gordon said. "It was an aggressive move, but everything was fine."

PIT STOPS: Lakeland product Joe Nemechek turned his car over to Green in the BGN race after experiencing flu-like symptoms in the morning Cup practice. Nemechek was on the pole. Green crashed on Lap 91 to finish 36th. ... Rookie Casey Mears went to a backup car after blowing a right-front tire and hitting the wall in the No. 41 Dodge during the final Cup practice.

Back to Sports
Back to Top

© 2006 • All Rights Reserved • Tampa Bay Times
490 First Avenue South • St. Petersburg, FL 33701 • 727-893-8111
Contact the Times | Privacy Policy
Standard of Accuracy | Terms, Conditions & Copyright

From the Times sports desk
  • John Romano: Martin thinks he's a success, even without title
  • Hubert Mizell: ESPN needs less entertainment, more conscience

  • College basketball
  • Volunteers smoke out the lackluster Gators
  • Salukis watch
  • USF avenges defeat 62-47
  • FSU survives 2nd-half falloff
  • Wisconsin keeps IU reeling
  • Seton Hall's aspirations lead to upset of No. 7 Pitt
  • No. 4 LSU needs 3 OTs for victory

  • Motorsports
  • Is it a tall tale or truth?
  • Top teams bury the hatchet
  • Junior is 3-for-3 at SpeedWeeks

  • Briefs
  • QB Couch's career as Brown may end soon
  • Rant...
  • Trust N Luck moves to Derby contender

  • Running
  • Warm weather a curse? Yes, at marathon today

  • Baseball
  • Jeter turns tables on New York media
  • Reds let troubled Nash go

  • NHL
  • Slapshots
  • Hoglund's last-minute goal lifts Leafs

  • Sailing
  • Alinghi grabs 2-0 lead

  • NBA
  • Bulls snap losing skid, nip Nuggets

  • Golf
  • Time to stop talking, start playing
  • Barr's hot streak continues with 65 and the lead
  • Overton has a shot at exemption
  • Woods, Mickelson will find out who's 'inferior'

  • Preps
  • Tornadoes capitalize on Devils' cold touch
  • Pinellas Park runs away with crown
  • Robinson overwhelms young Freedom
  • Recount awards title to Gators
  • Rams win fifth straight crown
  • Pride wounded, Wildcats whip Rams
  • Timely 3-pointer gives Warhawks the title
  • Wildcats' shooting woes help Lions win
  • Okpaleke lifts TBT past Armwood
  • Shorecrest can't keep Panthers from title
  • Lakewood puts up little fight against Southeast
  • Cougars, Eagles set standard
  • Leesburg's D defends
  • Eagles put away Gryphons late
  • Hornets beat Cougars for another title
  • Dominant Tornadoes blow past Patriots

  • Outdoors
  • Daily fishing report
  • Surf dreams lead to a must read

  • Your turn
  • Make a move Lightning

  • Rays
  • Piniella's big challenge is getting things sorted out
  • Gomes waited for his chance

  • Bucs
  • No waiting to test prospects

  • Lightning
  • Tampa Bay sends a message

  • From the wire

    From the state sports wire
  • Jacksonville's Spicer placed on IR after leg surgery
  • FIU-Western Kentucky game postponed because of Jeanne
  • Brown anxious to face old team for first time
  • Dolphins' desperate defense readies for Roethlisberger
  • Former Sarasota lineman sheds tough-guy image with Michigan
  • Rothstein rejoins Heat as assistant
  • No. 16 Florida has history on its side against Kentucky
  • FSU and Clemson QBs both off to slow starts