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Nationwide teams hit by penalties, suspensions

1 May 2013

An ill-tempered on-track clash between Nelson Piquet Jr. and Brian Scott has earned both drivers two-month probation periods in the latest crop of penalties to be handed down by NASCAR.

Scott, driving the #2 Richard Childress Racing car in Friday night's ToyotaCare 250 Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway, took exception with the way that Piquet had been racing him in the £30 Turner Motorsports car, accusing the Brazilian driver of deliberately running him into the wall late in the race.

The two ended up banging their cars together after the chequered flag, which is the offence that NASCAR cited for putting both drivers on probation until June 26 for violating section 12-1 of the championship rule book, actions detrimental to stock car racing. The crew chiefs of the #2 (Phil Gould) and the #30 (Chris Carrier) were also put on probation for the actions of their drivers.

The bad temper also spilled out onto pit road between the two pit crews. When Scott got back to his pit stall, he stormed over to see Piquet only to find his rival wasn't in a talkative mode: "When I went to talk to him, he just pushed and shoved me and then kicked me below the belt," Scott said. "It's just a chicken move."

“He's got an issue with me from I don't know when,” Scott continued. “He runs into me every week and I've kind of had it ... He could have easily passed me clean," he said adding: "We have a history. He doesn't like me for whatever reason. He chose to move me."

Piquet said that Scott had tried to spin him out during the race and that he was frustrated too: "He done it at Martinsville as well." Piquet did later post a general apology on Twitter for his actions on pit road, but didn't directly say sorry to Scott for the below-the-belt kick.

"I'd like to say I'm sorry to our fans, sponsors and my team for the incident at the end of the race," he wrote. "Afterwards on pit road, my first reaction was to defend myself. I had no intent to break the code," he continued, adding: "With that kick, no wonder I race cars and not play soccer. I look forward to moving on and racing again."

The ill-feeling between Piquet and the RCR camp ran into the night, with Piquet apparently jumped on by two of the Childress team's crew personnel in a parking area inside Richmond International Raceway as he walked to his road car to head home. Piquet himself was not injured, but one of his friends suffered a shoulder injury in the incident.

"Henrico Police are investigating a verbal argument that started in the infield area of RIR that escalated into a physical altercation near the driver/owner Lot," said a statement from the police department on Friday night. "The assault occurred at approximately 11.15pm. Two adult males are in custody as a result of the ongoing investigation. One of the two adult male victims has a shoulder injury."

RCR's Michael Scearce and Thomas Costello were arrested by local police and charged with misdemeanour assault offences. They were booked overnight and released on their own recognisance early the following morning, and have a June 25 court date. No one from the Turner team was arrested.

"We are aware an incident took place outside of the track's infield following Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Richmond International Raceway involving members of our team and others from another team," said a team statement from RCR at the weekend. "We are cooperating with the local authorities in this matter."

NASCAR made no official statement about the police investigation into the matter, but on Wednesday handed down punishments to both men for their actions: they have been suspended for four races, each fined $15,000 and put on probation through the end of the year.

RCR said later that it would be appealing the suspensions.


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