Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Off Track: Spencer Suspension Unfair

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Off Track: Spencer Suspension Unfair

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble, Times-Union sports writer

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- By fining and suspending Jimmy Spencer for bloodying Kurt Busch's nose, NASCAR sent yet another message that it doesn't enforce rules evenly and fairly.

Spencer was fined $25,000 and suspended from participating in the truck race last night, the Busch series race tomorrow night and the Winston Cup race Saturday at the Bristol Motor Speedway.

The National Stock Car Commission, which generally rubber-stamps NASCAR rulings, upheld the suspension yesterday morning, making Spencer the first driver in at least 30 years to be sent home for fighting.

Michael Waltrip drew a fine for slugging Lake Speed at Michigan after a race in 1995, but he wasn't suspended. Elton Sawyer punched Ryan Newman in 2001 after a Busch series race, and he wasn't suspended. Tony Stewart was fined last year for striking a photographer in the garage area at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but he wasn't suspended.

And who will ever forget the melee in the third turn after the 1979 Daytona 500 when Bobby and Donnie Allison fought with Cale Yarborough? None of them was suspended, even after their fracas was captured live by CBS cameras.

"I know other people have punched [someone] before and they haven't missed races," driver Ward Burton said.

The commission listened to Spencer's side of the story and, as expected, sided with NASCAR.

This despite hearing some compelling information that Spencer probably didn't initiate the latest skirmish with the talented, yet temperamental Busch. A transcript of a two-way radio conversation Busch had with his pit crew during the race indicates Busch was purposely trying to give Spencer a flat tire by hitting him on the track.

Spencer's crew heard the chatter on their radios, so he was on the lookout for trouble. Whether Busch was serious or not doesn't matter, because there was contact between the two when Busch passed Spencer for the lead with 50 laps to go. …

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