By BRANT JAMES, Associated Press
Published September 9, 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.
NASCAR penalized Harvick, five team members and Pat Tryson, Ricky Rudd's crew chief, for "actions detrimental to stock car racing."
Harvick was placed on probation until Dec.31. Crew members Mike Scearce and Gene Pasquale were suspended until Sept.17 and will miss Sunday's race in Loudon, N.H.
Crew chief Todd Berrier was fined $10,000, 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 Chevy Rock & Roll 400, Harvick was running second but hit the wall after being nudged from behind by Rudd, who finished third.
Harvick 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 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 and took both teams to NASCAR's hauler.
IDLE HANDS: Seven frenetic months of travel, testing and racing have ended with a maddening lull for David Reutimann. His NASCAR race schedule over as he prepares to move to Troutman, N.C., the Zephyrhills resident is finding it hard to occupy his time.
Working at 120 mph makes it difficult to unwind, although the occasional limited late models race at East Bay Raceway Park helps, as did a recent vacation. But the anticipation of an imminent sponsorship deal with NEMCO Motorsports that would put him in a Busch series car full time next year keys him back up.
"It's looking like a good possibility," said Reutimann, 33. "Sponsorshipwise, we still still have things to do, and I wouldn't say it's a sure thing, but it's looking good."
NEMCO spokeswoman Debbie Glenn said a sponsorship could be announced soon.
Reutimann had two fifth-place finishes and a sixth in six Busch starts this season for NEMCO Motorsports' No. 87 Chevrolet, which is owned by Winston Cup veteran Joe Nemechek and his wife, Andrea. Reutimann failed to qualify the No. 04 Morgan-McClure Pontiac for the Brickyard 400. By running in just six Busch events, he retains his rookie status for 2004.
Reutimann also ran on the NASCAR Southeast series and in ARCA this year.
Reutimann said he plans to test for NEMCO and will attend a few of the remaining eight races.
"I don't want to be out of sight, out of mind," he said.
Hence the move to an area north of Charlotte where many NASCAR teams are based. NEMCO's shop is in Mooresville, N.C.
"I hate to move," Reutimann said, "It just makes things easier when you come to the logistics of it all. Sometimes they need you there and in the long run it's where you need to be, closer to the shop."
NEXT STOP, EUROPE: JoeD'Agostino wants to be the great American Formula One hope. He got a little closer Sunday.
The 18-year-old was one of six narrowed from a field of 16 in the annual Red Bull Driver Search. The goal of the second-year project is to select prospects from various levels of racing for a ride in the European junior series and potentially F1. D'Agostino, a karter since age 5 and the 2002 R/T 2000 Southern Regional series champ and rookie of the year, will participate in the selections final at Portugal's Estoril Circuit, a former F1 track, in October. A season on the Formula Dodge National Championship, the top amateur developmental circuit for F1, helped prepare D'Agostino for trials in the uniformly prepared RT2000 Formula Dodge cars. Candidates will drive Formula 3 cars in the next round.
"They haven't given us much on what we will be doing," D'Agostino said. "I think they want to keep as much surprise as they can and see how we react to different situations."
No American has driven F1, considered the most prestigious series in the world, since Michael Andretti's partial season in 1993. His father, Mario, won the United States' second and most recent F1 championship in 1978.
"Unfortunately, Americans have been given a branding as not being able to compete over there, which is untrue," D'Agostino said. "There are plenty of talented and capable drivers in the U.S. They just need breaks and having an opportunity such as this."
CLOSE: Sam Hornish is the Indy Racing League IndyCar series' king of close. His .0099-second victory over Scott Dixon on Sunday in the Delphi Indy 300 at Chicagoland Speedway was the third closest in series history. The closest? Hornish's .0024-second margin over Al Unser Jr. in 2002 at the same track. Hornish also holds the mark for second closest with a 0.0096-second victory over Helio Castroneves in 2002 at Texas Motor Speedway. The difference between Hornish and third-place finisher Bryan Herta was .0100 second, the closest 1-2-3 finish in the series.