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Childress makes statement on fine

RCR had already asked fans to direct any donations to the organisation via a mid-week tweet. "I would like to encourage anyone who still wants to make a donation to please direct their hard-earned gifts to the Childress Institute," Childress had said on the team's Twitter page.

And with that, the press appearance was over: "Thank you all very much. Talk to you later. That's it." He did not take any questions.

Childress had earlier released a press statement immediately after NASCAR's penalty was announced, but this was the first time he had appeared in person to talk to the press - although the message was essentially the same.

The altercation had started after Kyle Busch, apparently unhappy with the way that RCR rookie Joey Coulter overtook him for fifth place on the final lap of the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250, gave him a bump on the cool-down lap after the chequered flag. Busch later characterised it as a "congratulatory bump", but Childress showed up 30 minutes later and hit Busch in retaliation. Busch himself remains on probation until June 15 for an unrelated disciplinary matter dating from an on-track clash with another RCR driver Kevin Harvick at Darlington in mid May.

Some pundits were surprised that Childress did not also receive a track ban for at least a race, as driver Jimmy Spencer had done in 2003 when he punched Kyle's older brother Kurt after a race at Michigan. Spencer himself - now a member of SPEED TV's NASCAR coverage team - this time backed Kyle Busch and said Childress had "stepped over the line", adding: "He let his temper lead him to assault someone."

Pot calling the kettle black? Spencer admitted that "if I had it to do over again, I wouldn't have hit [Kurt] ... I went over the line with Kurt Busch," Spencer said. "I made a better person out of Kurt by punching him, but I also know I shouldn't have touched him. I've been in many brawls and nobody benefits from it.

"I don't think NASCAR did enough," Spencer continued, returning to the subject of Childress' penalty. "The $150,000 fine was fine but a three-week suspension would have been more appropriate. He took responsibility for what he did but never apologized for it because he's really not sorry."

NASCAR may have decided against a ban because of an even more recent precedent than Busch/Spencer.

According to pit lane gossip reported by The Associated Press, Ryan Newman may have received a secret fine from NASCAR for throwing a punch at Juan Montoya early in May, when the two drivers were brought together in the NASCAR hauler to try and resolve a simmering feud that had broken out into a public on-track spat at Richmond when Montoya spun Newman out of the race in retribution for an early collision.

The meeting was in private and neither driver commented on what happened, Montoya saying afterwards: "I'm not going to tell you [expletive]. Let's leave it at that. What happened in the trailer was between me, Ryan Newman and NASCAR. That's it."

But FOXSports.com quoted a source who claimed that Montoya said privately that "Newman hits like a girl" afterwards, indicating that the meeting may have got physical, and this week NASCAR refused to confirm or deny reports that Newman was handed a $50,000 fine for allegedly throwing a punch.




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