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Dust settles after pair's exchange
By Brant James, Times Staff Writer
Published February 10, 2008
DAYTONA BEACH - A day after their on-track incident during a Budweiser Shootout practice brought controversy to the start of Speedweeks, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart attempted to get back to business Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
NASCAR, meanwhile, attempted to draw the new line between charisma and chaos created by its preseason promise to re-emphasize personalities for a disgruntled fan base.
Busch banged into the side of Stewart's No. 20 Toyota on pit road after Stewart turned him into the wall late in a Friday night practice, then the pair impeded each other's way into the garage area as crews rushed to their cars. NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter said Saturday morning that NASCAR reserved the right to levy penalties and said the drivers had been advised to "give each other plenty of space."
Those in the officials hauler meeting - the drivers, NASCAR director of competition Robin Pemberton and Sprint Cup series director John Darby - refused to describe the events, other than Hunter calling them "highly emotional."
Busch could be penalized for using his car as a weapon.
Hunter quipped "this is the NASCAR you fell in love with" Friday but stressed on Saturday that doesn't mean the sport espouses anarchy.
"We in no way would promote what happened on the racetrack (Friday) night after the initial accident," Hunter said. "They need to show their emotions in a way other than using their cars as battering rams."
Stewart said in a statement he and Busch are "both past it."
GET IN: Former open-wheel driver Patrick Carpentier led the afternoon practice session with a best lap of 186.150 mph, but he was already focused on qualifying the Gillett Evernham Motorsports No. 10 Dodge for the 50th Daytona 500.
Carpentier, who replaced Scott Riggs late last season, must qualify on time or through the 150-mile trials this week because the car finished 37th in owner points, two spots below the cutoff for automatic entry in the first five races of the season.
"If I start this race here, it's going to be a big, big, big victory for me no matter where we make it," he said.