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Press Snoop: Fines, awards, changes and crossovers


Dale Earnhardt Jr was hit with a NASCAR-imposed penalty on Wednesday for intentionally causing a caution condition during Sunday's Sharpie 500 Nextel Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Junior admitted it after the race, saying he needed a caution so he could pit to change a loose wheel, and was fined $10,000 and put on probation until 1 June 2004. But the stiffest part of the penalty was the loss of 25 championship points, both to Little E and to his DEI team.

NASCAR president Mike Helton said that '[NASCAR] has several rules in our rule book that have been in place for quite some time to prevent someone from altering the outcome of an event. Actions such as this will not be tolerated. We will always react to protect the integrity of our sport'.

NASCAR has a policy of releasing unofficial results after a race, with the official results issued the Monday after the weekend. Penalties, if any, were announced on Tuesday. However, because of the increase in the number of penalties - in inverse proportion to the size of the fields - an extra day will be needed for behaviour and infraction review. Now 'Penalty Box Day' is Wednesday. This will also allow sufficient time to tally the results of the Internet fan voting on which drivers should be penalised.

NASCAR will be joining the ever-increasing number of organisations holding annual awards shows. Starting with the 2005 SpeedWeeks, NASCAR will hold the First Annual NASCAR Fan Choice Awards at Daytona USA, to be simultaneously televised live on Spike TV and Lifetime cable channels. The five-hour show will be sponsored by Nigerian EMail.

Among the Award Categories, both objective and subjective, are 'most expressive hand signals', 'bleepingest driver', 'most colourful driver language', 'most column inches in a tabloid', 'driver who runs for the most teams', 'team which runs the most drivers', 'team with the most personnel changes', 'longest term of NASCAR probation', 'worst criminal record', 'most points lost', 'largest fine' and 'driver completing the fewest laps'. Joe Ruttman appears to leading the latter category in Nextel Cup, although Phil Bonifeld is a close second in the Craftsman Truck Series.

Grand-Am Road Racing Championship, based at NASCAR headquarters in Daytona Beach, will further strengthen its stock car ties. Effective with the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Daytona 500 - both of which are part of Daytona SpeedWeeks - the series will run together at selected race venues. This will further increase the cross-pollination between the disciplines. Even more NASCAR drivers will be expected to run in the annual sportscar endurance race, including Johnny Benson, Mark Martin - who has already run the Rolex - Casey Mears, Ryan Newman, Jimmy Spencer and Ken Schrader, who has a few weekends left to fill on his 52-weekend calendar.

Conversely, more of the road racers will run stock cars. Among the first Busch Series teams expected to announce will be Dyson/Doran Racing, with a six-car team. The drivers will be Ron Fellows (Bully Hill Wine Chevrolet), Elliott Forbes-Robinson (Yellowtail Wine Dodge), Butch Leitzinger (Hickory Farms Cheese Ford), Max Papis (Ruffino Chianti Dodge), Boris Said (Two Buck Chuck Ford) and Jimmy Vasser (Monterrey Jack Cheese Chevrolet).

Starting with the Brickyard 400 race, NASCAR will reduce the size of the fields in Nextel Cup to 33 cars, in line with the size of the Indianapolis 500 field, both of which are run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.



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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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