Dale Jr. docked points, fined for Bristol spin
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been penalized 25 NASCAR Nextel Cup championship driver points, fined $10,000 and put on probation until June 1 for intentionally spinning out during Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, NASCAR officials announced Wednesday.
The Dale Earnhardt Inc. team, which fields the No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet for Earnhardt Jr., was also penalized 25 owner points for the actions of its driver.
Earnhardt Jr. was traveling in Florida when NASCAR notified him of the penalties and was unable for comment.
"We regret what this has cost us in our pursuit of the Nextel Cup championship," team owner Teresa Earnhardt said. "In the heat of battle, a lot of things can happen and decisions can be made that come at a high cost.
"It was a mistake we've all learned from and we have to move past it. Our goal is regaining the ground we've lost and continuing our focus on winning."
Earnhardt Jr. was penalized for intentionally causing a caution condition during the race, and as a result was in violation of Section 12-4-A (Actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4-N (Any driver who, in the judgment of NASCAR officials, intentionally causes or attempts to cause a caution condition by stopping or spinning out or any other action) of the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Rule Book.
After a pit stop, Earnhardt's car had loose lug nuts on a rear wheel that caused its handling to deteriorate. Earnhardt fell back from leader Kurt Busch until he was only a few seconds from losing a lap.
Earnhardt spun in Turn 2 and radioed his crew that he had intentionally spun out to keep from losing a lap. In numerous post-race media interviews Earnhardt continued to say he had intentionally spun his car to create a caution that prevented him from losing a lap.
"The driver of the No. 8 car was quite vocal in admitting he intentionally spun out his car to cause a caution condition on the track, which is clearly prohibited in the NASCAR Rule Book," NASCAR president Mike Helton said. "We have 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.
"This was a clear-cut case of that. Actions such as this will not be tolerated. We will always react to protect the integrity of our sport."
In the 2002 running of The Winston NASCAR all-star race at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch spun out Robby Gordon and later said he did it intentionally because he needed a caution period.
NASCAR fined him $10,000.
Earnhardt's adjusted point total of 832 points allows him to maintain third position in the standings, 66 points behind leader Matt Kenseth. Teresa Earnhardt maintains the same differential in the owner standings to Kenseth's owner, Mark Martin.
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I'm glad he got the same treatment as Rubberhead did for doing it in The Winston.