NASCAR Sprint Cup: Marcos Ambrose, Casey Mears fined for Richmond fight

jutter@charlotteobserver.comApril 29, 2014 

NASCAR on Tuesday issued penalties to Sprint Cup Series drivers Marcos Ambrose and Casey Mears for their involvement in a postrace fight at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.

Ambrose was fined $25,000 and Mears $15,000, and both drivers were placed on probation through May 28 for their participation in a fistfight in the garage area following Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400.

In a Fox Sports video of the incident, Ambrose and Mears are seen in the garage having an animated discussion after the race. Mears grabbed and shoved Ambrose to the side, and Ambrose then punched Mears in the head.

As Ambrose left the area, the video also shows a crew member wearing a uniform from Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines throwing a punch to Ambrose from behind.

NASCAR officials said they would not be penalizing the crew member.

In a statement released from his Richard Petty Motorsports team, Ambrose said he accepts NASCAR’s penalty and will not appeal.

In an interview this week with Fox’s “NASCAR Race Hub” show, Mears said the incident was the result of “a few things on the track.”

“We started going at each other and before we knew it, it escalated really quickly and for a moment there, I kind of wanted to hit him, you know what I mean?” Mears said. “And I thought, ‘I can’t do that.’

“I grabbed him, and it turned out the way that it did. Unfortunately, I ended up getting hit out of the field.”

CMS unveils prerace show: Charlotte Motor Speedway officials as well as NASCAR driver Kevin Harvick unveiled many of the features of the prerace show that will precede the Coca-Cola 600 on May 25.

Country music star Brantley Gilbert will perform a 45-minute frontstretch concert before the race, performing songs from his upcoming album “Just As I Am,” slated for release May 19.

Task Force Corsair, part of the 82nd Airborne Division’s Combat Aviation Brigade stationed at Fort Bragg, will conduct a prerace flyover featuring AH-64 Apache, UH-60 Black Hawk, CH-47 Chinook and OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopters.

“We want to give all the men and women who have served in the past and who continue to fight for our freedom today a great big bear hug and let them know how much their service means to our country,” said Marcus Smith, the speedway’s president and general manager.

The command to start engines will come from higher ground. The race’s grand marshal, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, will give the command to start engines from aboard the International Space Station.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter

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