NASCAR tosses crew chief out for violations

Published Oct. 2, 2005|Updated Nov. 7, 2005

Crew chief Todd Berrier was ejected from Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday morning and is expected to be suspended after Kevin Harvick's No. 29 Chevrolet was found to have numerous rules violations Friday after qualifying.

Berrier was suspended four races for another qualifying infraction at Las Vegas. Gil Martin, Harvick's former crew chief now with RCR Busch series driver Clint Bowyer, will take over temporarily, team owner Richard Childress said.

Childress had an hourlong discussion with NASCAR officials Saturday but was unable to sway the sanctioning body.

"They haven't told me (the length of the suspension)," he said. "They told me they would make that call Monday."

Berrier told Childress the problems with the No. 29 Chevrolet's shock doors and fuel system were the result of something that happened as Harvick qualified second for today's race. He will start 43rd because his qualifying time was disallowed.

At Las Vegas, Berrier was suspended and fined and the team was docked points because in qualifying he rigged a 22-gallon fuel cell to hold just five gallons but appear full.

ACTION: A film crew shot scenes for the Will Ferrell NASCAR movie. NASCAR is assisting with the comedy, once titled Talladega Nights, but now tentatively dubbed High, Wide and Handsome. But the movie promises to send up the sport and fans.

Ferrell, known for work on Saturday Night Live and in comedies such as Old School, plays a racer named Ricky Bobby with a "win at all cost attitude." Sound familiar?

He looked a lot like Dale Earnhardt Jr. facially during shooting in the garage on Saturday and wore exaggerated sideburns, a brown flannel shirt and cowboy boots. In the plot, his stock car racing dominance is challenged by a French Formula One driver (played by Sacha Baron Cohen of Da Ali G Show).

A "Ricky Bobby" name placard was hung between those of Nextel Cup drivers Martin Truex and Scott Riggs in the garage area for the shoot. Bobby's No. 62 race car bears sponsorships from "Julio's Thongs for Men," "Tanya Rashard's Homemade Weaves and Hair Extensions" and "Lane's Bath Salts for Menopause and Spider Bites."

BAD START: Tampa native Aric Almirola was involved in a multicar Lap 2 accident and finished 37th in hisARCA series debut Saturday at Talladega. The 21-year-old qualified sixth but his car was eliminated.

Almirola races full time in the NASCAR Weekly Series for Joe Gibbs Racing's developmental program. He has two top 10s in his first three truck races this season and has done some Busch Series testing.

Team president J.D. Gibbs has said he hopes to race Almirola full time in the Truck series in 2006.

"It's been really enjoyable," Almirola said. "I've had the opportunity to do a lot of things I never thought I would get to do."

SPARK PLUGS: Earnhardt Sr. earned his 76th and final win five years ago at Talladega. "It's hard to believe," said Childress, his car owner. "It's hard to believe he's not here, to start with." Rusty Wallace starts today's UAW-Ford 500 just seven points out of first place but at the back of the 43-car pack after a blown engine on his second qualifying lap on Friday. Seven cars, including those of pole-sitter Elliott Sadler and Nextel Cup points leader Jimmie Johnson, did not take part in the final practice Saturday morning. J.J. Yeley's 193.917 mph lap led the session.


Times staff writer