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Busch and Harvick penalised over altercation

Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick received hefty fines and have been put on probation for the next four races, following an altercation between the two drivers and their teams at Darlington.
NASCAR met today to review the weekend events at Darlington Raceway, and high on the agenda was the outbreak of words, shoves and even attempted punches that flew between Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick and their respective Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing crews.

NASCAR handed both drivers the same penalties: a $25,000 fine each, plus putting them both on a four-race probation. Harvick beat the official announcement with a tweet to the same effect: "4 weeks probation and $25,000 fine....I understand because of the car on pit road."

The penalties were indeed made under section 12-1 of the series rule book, which refers to "actions detrimental to stock car racing—involved in an altercation on pit road after the race". NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp explained further, saying the penalties were "about maintaining a safe environment on pit road." That means that the penalties are specifically related to what happened after the race, and not the on-track incident on lap 363 that was the original cause of the outbreak of hostilities.

The racing incident saw Harvick and Busch collide while side-by-side; Harvick dropped back, bumped the back of the #18 and got back alongside as the pair exited turn 4, with Clint Bowyer also taking the opportunity to dive down the inside of the pair of them to make it three-wide. As they compressed out of the turn, the three jostled and Bowyer was sent spinning into head-on contact with the inside wall; after the caution came out, Busch then moved down the track and tapped Harvick into a separate spin.

That apparent retaliation incensed Harvick, and after the race ended he stalked the #18 around the track, finally blocking him in pit road before climbing out of his car to storm over to his opponent's driver-side window to aim a punch at Busch. Busch responded by flooring the accelerator, which bumped the driverless #29 aside so that it rolled into a pit box wall where pit crews were working. No one was injured in the slow-speed accident, but it was clearly a dangerous moment, and it was this element that NASCAR felt needed addressing.

The probation period means that both Busch and Harvick will be closely watched at the Sprint Cup events at Dover, Charlotte, Kansas and ending with Pocono on June 15, as well as all other NASCAR events during that same time frame - including Nationwide races, Camping World Truck Series, and the All-Star event on May 21 in which both drivers are eligible to compete.

In NASCAR, "probation" typically means that the driver(s) concerned are under closer scrutiny than usual, that any incidents will be investigated in a "less forgiving manner" and any penalties that are handed down would be considerably harsher than usual in a similar first-time offence. However the precise nature and intricacies of probation have never been fully spelled out by NASCAR, despite promises to do so going back over three years. Generally speaking, many fans consider probation as a "so what?" slap on the wrist.

The penalties are consistent with others that have recently been handed down: Robby Gordon is on a year-long probation after he allegedly threw punches at Kevin Conway at Vegas in an argument over sponsors not paying up; Kyle Busch has already received a $25,000 penalty in November, 2010 after a row at Texas Motor Speedway ended with him giving the finger to a NASCAR official that was caught on live TV coverage; and Carl Edwards had been handed a three-race probation in the spring of 2010 for intentionally wrecking Brad Keselowski. In February, 2011, Nationwide Series driver Michael Annett was placed under probation for the rest of the year after being involved in a car accident while over the legal alcohol limit, with his car owner Rusty Wallace also imposing a "zero-tolerance, no alcohol at all" ban on Annett.

But other altercations have not been penalised, such as Gordon getting out and seeming to aim at least one punch at Jeff Gordon on the backstretch at Texas in 2010; Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick's post-race spat at Pocono, and Logano and Ryan Newman's similar encounter at Michigan also went unpenalised.




Related Pictures

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No. 18 M&M`s Toyota - Kyle Busch [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Kyle Busch - Joe Gibbs Racing   [pic credit: NASCAR/Getty]
No. 29 Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet - Kevin Harvick [Pic credit: Getty for NASCAR]
Kevin Harvick
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #19 DrawTire Ford, leads Kyle Busch, driver of the #51 Dollar General Toyota, and the rest of the field during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200 presented by ZLOOP at Bristol Motor Speedway on August 21, 2014 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet SS, qualified sixth Friday, August 15, 2014 for Sunday`s Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. Harvick is 8th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Kyle Larson, driver of the #32 Cartwheel by Target Chevrolet, leads the field to start the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Pocono Mountains 150 at Pocono Raceway on August 2, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M`s Toyota, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Quicken Loans Chevrolet, drives through the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet SS, won the pole position Friday, August 1, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
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Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, poses with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GoBowling.com 400 at Pocono Raceway on August 1, 2014 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars into the pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag for the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Resers Toyota, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, qualifies for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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