Ambrose, Mears Fined for Richmond Ruckus
NASCAR issued fines Tuesday in the wake of the post-race scuffle between drivers Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears last Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.
NASCAR fined Ambrose $25,000 and Mears $15,000 for their actions in the Sprint Cup Series garage. The two were found in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 12-4.9 (Behavioral Penalty; involved in an altercation in the garage area after the race) in the 2014 NASCAR Rule Book.
Both drivers were also placed on probation until May 28.
Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, had said Saturday that NASCAR officials would review the incident, aiming to gather more information around the fracas before making a ruling.
Replays of the video showed a testy exchange between the two drivers in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garage after the conclusion of the Toyota Owners 400. Ambrose finished 18th with Mears 19th.
Mears shoved Ambrose during the course of conversation, and the Aussie responded with a right cross to Mears' face. The footage showed more shoving following the punch before the two were finally separated.
Members from Mears' Germain Racing team and Ambrose's Richard Petty Motorsports team said their drivers had left the track immediately after the squabble and were not available for comment. But Sunday at a 5K race hosted by the Jimmie Johnson Foundation, Mears opened up about the incident.
"One thing I can say is that out of all the NASCAR fights, when you see people swing it's usually a lot of fly-swatting," said Mears, sporting a swollen, bruised left eye behind sunglasses. "He actually connected, so that was pretty good."
The Petty team issued a statement shortly after Tuesday's ruling, saying that Ambrose accepted the penalty and would not appeal.
Kevin Harvick, speaking to media at a promotional event earlier Tuesday at Charlotte Motor Speedway, said he didn't feel the need for Ambrose or Mears to be fined. When asked if NASCAR should take a hands-off approach, he hedged.
"It's kind of like the retaliation thing on the race track. When you have guys pulling out of the pits and just 'Days of Thunder'-ing a guy to knock him back out of the race, those kinds of things are very Late Modelish to me," Harvick said. "The after-the-race stuff can go either way; it can be an argument, it can … escalate. … You hope that it doesn't come to that point; that's pretty physical. It's a unique situation; I don't know what the right answer is."
Nine races into the season, Ambrose ranks 16th in the Sprint Cup standings with Mears 23rd.