Spencer suspended, fined for punching Busch after race

Tuesday, August 19, 2003

Jimmy Spencer was suspended Monday from all NASCAR-sanctioned competition until Aug. 26 for punching Kurt Busch in the garage at Michigan International Speedway.

Spencer was also fined $25,000 and placed on probation through the end of the year. Busch was put on probation until Dec. 31.

"This was a very unfortunate situation," NASCAR president Mike Helton said. "Emotions are a part of every sport, NASCAR Winston Cup racing included. However there is a fine line. In this instance, that fine line was crossed."

Spencer could still face criminal charges. Lenawee County (Mich.) Sheriff Larry Richardson said Monday that investigators wouldn't turn over their report to prosecutors until at least today.

Spencer will miss the Truck Series, Busch Series and Winston Cup race this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway -- the site of one of the first flare-ups in Spencer and Busch's long-running feud.

Contact in race

The latest fight came Sunday when the two made contact late in the GFS Marketplace 400 as Busch attempted to pass Spencer. After the event, Busch's car apparently came to a stop near Spencer's hauler in the garage area.

Witnesses said Spencer pulled in and hit Busch's car from behind. He then reportedly jumped from his car, approached Busch's window and punched the driver in the face.

Jack Roush, Busch's car owner, originally said his driver's nose was broken. But a team spokeswoman said Monday that Busch only chipped a tooth.

Spencer, a 15-year veteran, and Busch have had a strained relationship since Busch broke into Winston Cup in 2001. They made contact at a race in Phoenix during Busch's rookie season that both drivers complained about, then ran into each other again last year at Bristol when Busch bumped Spencer out of his way to score his first career victory.

At Indianapolis last July, Spencer wrecked Busch early in the race and Busch responded with a series of gestures before walking off the track.

He later called Spencer a "decrepit old has-been."

NASCAR sat both drivers down after the Indianapolis race and the tension between the two had seemed to subside until Sunday.

Suspension is a rarity in NASCAR. It's not clear when the last driver was suspended, but Kevin Harvick was "parked" for one Winston Cup race in April 2002 for rough driving in a Truck Series event.

Ricky Rudd and his former engine builder were fined a combined $15,000 and put on probation for fighting in the garage area last year.

Crew chiefs have been suspended before for rules violations, and a Busch Series driver and Trucks Series driver were suspended indefinitely for drug-related problems.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: