Violence erupted between drivers at a NASCAR race this weekend with Marcos Ambrose punching Casey Mears in the head. NASCAR announced that it has launched an investigation and may announce the results this week.
Australian driver Marcos Ambrose, who drives for Richard Petty Motorsports, took a closed-fisted swing at Casey Mears, a Germain Racing driver, after the Sprint Cup race Saturday, April 26, at Richmond International Raceway.
The pair of drivers were arguing in the garage after the race when Mears gave Ambrose a strong shove. Ambrose responded with a punch to Mears’ head connecting solidly.
That same evening, NASCAR Vice President for Competition Robin Pemberton noted that the organization was launching an investigation into the incident. Pemberton noted that they would “take their time” reviewing the incident on Monday and Tuesday.
Still, Pemberton seemed to downplay the incident saying, “We don’t think it was anything too severe.”
Sporting News points out that there have been quite a few scuffles between drivers and most of these incidents are ignored by the sanctioning body. Pushing, shoving, screaming, even slapping all have been ignored in the past. However, closed-fist violence has been punished several times in the past.
“Ryan Newman reportedly got a $50,000 fine for punching Juan Pablo Montoya in the NASCAR hauler in 2011,” SN.com reports.
Interestingly, NASCAR has no rules on its books for judging and punishing behaviorial infractions. But the subject is discussed in the NASCAR rules book.
Behavioral infractions differ from technical infractions in that each is handled on a case-by-case basis, viewed in context, with an understanding of the prominence of the sport, the large fan support that the sport attracts, and also with an understanding of the passions that the sport can evoke, as well as, the competitive nature of most NASCAR members.
In any case, it seems that Casey Mears is taking the incident in stride.
“(My eye) is OK,” Mears said on Sunday. “He got me good, though. Out of all the NASCAR fights or punches or when you see people swinging, usually it’s a lot of fly-swatting. He actually connected so that was pretty good.”
On the other hand, Mears also didn’t utterly dismiss the incident. “I don’t think it something you just forget. Obviously, that’s kind of where it sits,” he warned.
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