Spencer appeals NASCAR suspension, fine

Posted: Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Jimmy Spencer filed an appeal Tuesday with NASCAR, hoping to overturn the suspension and fine levied against him for a post-race altercation with Kurt Busch at Michigan International Speedway.

And Busch got back into the news Tuesday, as well, when the tape of a radio conversation with his pit during Sunday's race indicated he may have purposely tried to ''flatten'' Spencer's fender.

NASCAR spokesman Herb Branham said a hearing on Spencer's appeal would be held Wednesday morning in Bristol, Tenn., where Spencer was scheduled to race in a Craftsman Truck Series event that night.

Spencer's argument will be heard by National Stock Car Racing Commission chairman George Silbermann and two other commissioners. Silbermann, a longtime racing executive, is also director of administration for NASCAR.

Spencer was suspended Monday from all NASCAR-sanctioned competition until Aug. 26 for punching Busch in the garage at MIS following the GFS Marketplace 400 on Sunday.

He also was fined $25,000 and placed on probation through the end of the year. Busch, who had a bloodied nose and chipped tooth, was put on probation until Dec. 31.

There was no word late Tuesday if Busch was planning to appeal.

Spencer, who was scheduled to appear Tuesday night on the ''Wind Tunnel'' show on Speed Channel, decided to skip the telecast. But host Dave Despain played the tape, which he said was recorded during Sunday's race.

Busch said, ''See, I'm not very good at being bad. I was trying to flatten the 7 car (Spencer) fender and I got mine. I needed to be further forward on his car.''

Someone on his crew responded, ''They just showed that on TV. You just missed by about an inch or two. Ah, not far enough forward.''

Busch replied, ''Inches only count unless you're playing horseshoes and hand grenades. Ah, I don't want to play either with that clown.''

The other voice said, ''I hear ya, man.''

After Busch's comments were aired, NASCAR spokesman Mike Zizzo, reached by telephone, said, ''We're confident the commission has all the available information and we will let the process run its course.''

Busch could not be reached for comment Tuesday night.

Busch, in his third full season in Winston Cup, has gotten into trouble before with comments.

He was held in the pits for four laps during the July 2002 race at Daytona for cursing NASCAR officials over the radio. Busch was also fined $10,000 for saying in post-race interviews that he deliberately spun out Robby Gordon during The Winston in May 2002 to get a caution flag that would bunch up the field with five laps to go.

Spencer could still face criminal charges. A Lenawee County (Mich.) sheriff captain said it could be Friday at the earliest before the department forwarded its report to the prosecutor.

Busch said the punch by Spencer caused tissue damage.

In the latest of a series of skirmishes between the drivers since 2001, the two made contact as Busch attempted to pass Spencer late in Sunday's race. After the event, Busch said his car ran out of gas 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.

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