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Drivers punished for tiffs

NASCAR fined Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Robby Gordon on Monday for intentionally running into each other's cars during the cool-down lap of Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Gordon was fined $10,000 and placed on probation until Aug. 28. Earnhardt Jr. was assessed a $5,000 fine. Both were penalized for "actions deemed detrimental to stock car racing" after the confrontation on pit road in which Earnhardt Jr. brushed Gordon's car, then Gordon spun Earnhardt's car sideways.

Kevin Harvick also was penalized for his actions in the pits after Saturday's Busch Grand National race, the Channellock 250, also at Bristol.

Harvick, who finished 10th in the Winston Cup race, was fined $15,000 and placed on probation until Aug. 28. He was involved in an accident with Greg Biffle and the two had a heated argument.

TO THE TRUCK: Jimmy Spencer's day Friday at Bristol got off to a late start because NASCAR would not allow his team to unload its truck until Spencer reported to the NASCAR hauler for a belated talk with officials.

Spencer was called to the truck after the previous two races but never showed up, so NASCAR forced the issue Friday morning. Spencer had a brief meeting with NASCAR president Mike Helton in which his role in last week's accident at Darlington was discussed.

Spencer was involved in an 11-car wreck, coming quickly through the smoke of an accident ahead of him and slamming into Tony Stewart's stopped car. Stewart spent the night in the hospital after the accident with back pains.

Stewart drove in the Food City 500 but stepped out of the car to let relief driver Todd Bodine take over for the final 125 laps.

"They wanted to talk to him about some stuff, about what he saw in the wreck and was there any way they could have prevented such a big pile-up," said Tony Glover, team manager for Chip Ganassi Racing. "I guess they're getting different answers from different drivers.

"I don't think they were trying to punish him for being in the wreck."

Winston Cup director John Darby said NASCAR spoke to other drivers about the accident and claimed Spencer's team couldn't unload the truck during the meeting because the keys were in Spencer's pocket.

QUOTABLE: Winston Cup driver Stacy Compton summarized attitudes during races at a bullring like Bristol.

"You come in mad in the morning," he said. "When you leave the drivers' meeting, you snarl at the guy beside you and you kick the guy in front of you."

DOUBLE DUTY?: John Andretti wants to run in both the IRL's Indianapolis 500 and the Winston Cup's Coca-Cola 600 this year.

His NASCAR bosses are putting a halt to any double-duty plans.

"John's not going to do it," Kyle Petty, CEO of Petty Enterprises, said over the weekend. "We're just not in a position to let John do this at this time. I want John to do it, but we need his focus to be on the Winston Cup cars."

That was disappointing news to Andretti, who tried the double in 1994. He has been trying to do the grueling 1,100 miles of racing in the same day ever since and approached Petty on Friday to ask if he could do it this year.

"I 100 percent want to do it, so I asked and then I listened for a while," Andretti said.

"He kind of made his thoughts known and I believe he thinks the conversation is over. I kind of think it might still be hanging a little bit."

Petty thinks there will be a time when Andretti can run at Indy, perhaps next season, and possibly in a car that the Pettys are involved in.

"His name and Indy are synonymous, and I know he'd like to get back to it," Petty said. "But it's got to be the right time for everyone, not just the right time for John."

SPARK PLUGS: Pole-sitter Jeff Gordon was third on Lap 158 of Sunday's race when he spun his No. 24 Chevrolet in Turn 2. He wound up 31st and has gone a career-high 14 races without a top-five finish. CART will use the Accident Data Recorder 2, which records data at 1,000 samples a second, to help analyze crashes. The machine will record the movement of a driver's head during a crash, the throttle and the steering angle, and other information.

_ TIMES WIRES

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