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If NASCAR doles out penalties for Ambrose vs. Mears, it can’t be one or the other

Apr 28, 2014, 9:21 AM EDT

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Two days later, we’ve all seen the footage of Marcos Ambrose punching Casey Mears after the latter grabbed and shoved him in post-race Saturday night at Richmond International Raceway.

It seemed like a classic case of “short track tempers” – one part hard racing, then one part difference of opinion, and finally, one part closed fist into skull.

After years of seeing moments like this either through highlight packages or track promotion spots on television, we’re probably a bit numb to it all.

And so, wouldn’t it just be fine to chalk it up to “short track tempers” and be done with it?  Besides, you’d think nobody would be stupid enough to go for revenge at the next track on the schedule, Talladega Superspeedway, where one driver’s attempt at payback can become a million-dollar pile of mangled race cars.

But NASCAR still needs to respond to what occurred Saturday in Richmond between Ambrose and Mears. And when it does, they both need to be penalized.

Because while Ambrose managed to tag Mears in the face (the latter has since admitted that he got a ‘pretty good’ shot from the Australian), Mears did escalate the matter when he put his hands on Ambrose’s firesuit and moved him.

When somebody does that to you, you are compelled to defend yourself, right then and there. And that’s what Ambrose did.

All the same, the incident took away from where the focus needs to be, and that’s the racing.

As for what NASCAR can do to Ambrose and Mears, that’s for them to decide and they can do quite a bit. In Sporting News writer Bob Pockrass’ take on the situation, he notes that the NASCAR rulebook doesn’t have specific guidelines for “behavioral infractions” and that such matters are handled on a case-by-case basis.

Pockrass suggests a noticeable fine and probation for Ambrose, but not a suspension, which seems reasonable considering that these were two competitors settling their differences (albeit somewhat violently) just after they’d raced for 400 laps.

I’d suggest the same punishment for Mears and be done with them.

However, crewmen that injected themselves into Ambrose and Mears’ fight (watch the footage and you’ll notice one crewman getting a punch in on Ambrose) may need to be suspended, at least for one race. They needed to break the two drivers up, not get into their battle themselves.

It also bears noting that Mears has suggested the incident is not “something you just forget.” If I’m a NASCAR official, I’m taking that as another reason to penalize him and Ambrose, and to try and deter other drivers from repeating their episode in the future.

Where do you think NASCAR should come down on this matter? Use the comments to sound off, but we ask that you keep it clean.

  1. theracefan - Apr 28, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    NASCAR needs to leave well enough alone. Rivalry is good, these pansies are all best buddies. More rivalry and aggression would make racing better. The fans love it and pay good money to see it and often times are disappointed and never return. Brain Dead France thinks tinkering with the cars and the engines will bring fans back. He is so wrong. Let the boys have at it for real. Danica might even take part.

    • griffm60 - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:39 AM

      Maybe if you were paying for the all the wreck cars and broken bodies that might consider your opinion

      • chad4208 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:27 PM

        huh?

      • davidf95 - Aug 1, 2014 at 2:04 PM

        What cars or bodies were broken in this altercation?

  2. sfjaye - Apr 28, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Let it be. The action in the pits was more entertaining than 90 % of the race.

  3. camino409robert1026 - Apr 28, 2014 at 10:32 AM

    THAT WAS BETTER THAN THE RACE WHICH GOOD YEAR WAS SURE THEY SCREWED UP! GOOD YEAR SCREWED THE POOCH TRYING THOSE WORTHLESS TIRES. AT LEAST THERE WAS A RESPONSE BY MARCOS AFTER MEARS GRABBED HIM!!!

    • indycarseries500 - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:32 AM

      You really need to get that Caps Lock button checked out.

  4. dave2746 - Apr 28, 2014 at 10:36 AM

    What happened to boys have at it?? Nothing should be done, it makes it more exciting when drivers are allowed to show their frustration!

  5. glear1 - Apr 28, 2014 at 10:47 AM

    I thought Nascar was going to keep their nose out of the racers business. This is the kind of thing people miss. You know: people responding normally when tempers are high. Let these guys be men, leave it alone.

  6. staranela - Apr 28, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    The author’s logic makes no sense. The actions of Mears and Ambrose weren’t equal. As he himself says, Ambrose was compelled to defend himself when Mears grabbed him (while Ambrose was trying to walk away from the argument, it should be pointed out). Mears was the aggressor, and should bear the brunt of any penalty. Maybe next time he’ll remember to just speak with his words. The crew member should be nailed, that was a sucker punch.

  7. schaefer692002 - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    Its about time someone actually threw a punch! Most of the time these pansies push and shove each other like a couple little girls! When a man comes up to you and starts grabbing and pushing you he should be ready to accept his punch in the head! Go get em Marcos!! He just became a driver i will root for every week!

    • griffm60 - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:52 AM

      So once all the punching and rolling around in the mud begin, then what, they are paid to race not to get the golden glove boxing award, if fighting is what excites the fans more than driving, then they are with the wrong sport, maybe a good wrestling match or Friday night boxing would be better, it gets very expensive now to fix race cars and wait for drivers to heal from ‘boys have at it”

  8. manik56 - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:04 AM

    No suspensions. Nascar wouldn’t do it to Junior, Stewart, Gordon, or Johnson so why should they do it to Ambrose and Mears?

    • griffm60 - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:56 AM

      Didn’t Gordon pay a fine last year for the Gordon/Bowyer incident

      • chad4208 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:29 PM

        that was a MUCH different situation

  9. extavernmouse - Apr 28, 2014 at 11:25 AM

    I still haven’t read what happened on the track that cause the fight. Anybody know?

    • staranela - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      Supposedly Mears was upset that Ambrose went three-wide in one of the later laps. But, that’s just what I’ve picked up in different news stories, neither driver has come out and said what it was over.

  10. mawhamer - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:42 PM

    CMON. The person who wrote that piece above is unreasonable and it is that mind set exactly that’s behind why Nascar has lost so many fans and will continue to do so. They can’t sell out races and I have many friends who just gave up on Nascar because of their inconsistency and mostly crappy races over the past 5 years.

    I clearly remember “have at it boyz.” BUT….You see what that really that meant was to do so at your own risk because we will not tolerate any personality among drivers!

    How could Ambrose ever get a penalty just for defending himself? I am now growing tired of Nascar and their inconsistent garbage when they dole out penalties and if they give one to Ambrose I will just quit watching their races. I have already quit watching over half of them so what’s a few more!

    If someone is in your face and you try to walk away and they grab you and start shoving you and you respond in the same fashion Ambrose did should you both be charged with assault or some kind of crime and be hauled of to jail? Of course not. The person who starts shoving and getting that aggressive toward the guy trying to walk away is the one at fault morally and legally. Was Ambrose supposed to just let him get more and more aggressive and do nothing? Gezzz

    Ambrose tried to walk away and was not allowed to. Mears got what was coming to him and there should be no penalty to Ambrose. Any crew member who threw a punch should be suspended for 10 races!

    Don’t forget when Logono threw his water bottle at Tony Stewarts face. There was intent there even though contact was not made and Nascar did nothing.

    Mears should be told if he retaliates on the track he will be sat out of the next 3 races. Nascar should also tell him that the next time he gets that aggressive and puts his hands on someone trying to walk away they will sit him down for 10 races. They should also tell him that if he does it again and the driver he does it to beats him down that they will do nothing to the other driver because he started it by breaking the law.

    Under the rule of law Mears could be charged with a crime and Ambrose was justified to respond with the force required to stop the altercation.

    • staranela - Apr 28, 2014 at 12:55 PM

      I have more respect for Ambrose, who didn’t start the physical altercation, but, responded to it appropriately, then I have for Keslowski, who rammed Kenseth’s car out of pique, caused damage to more cars in the cool-down lap, then shook his fist at Kenseth before then hurried away before he would have to deal with any consequences.

    • tl5red - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:22 PM

      as far as sitting mears out if he retaliates on track, let’s just not forget that although Gordon got a big fine for his retaliatory action on Bowyer. He was never suspended from racing for ANY amount of races. So fair is fair.

  11. mawhamer - Apr 28, 2014 at 1:29 PM

    “Nascar wouldn’t do it to Junior, Stewart, Gordon, or Johnson so why should they do it to Ambrose and Mears?”

    I clearly remember JR being docked 100 points and 100K for having side plates on the COT wing that were identical to Nascar’s but deemed unapproved. Does anyone really believe if it was a low income teams car and a bottom teir driver that had the same infraction that the penalty would have been the same for them? JR who is Nascar’s most popular driver driving for the top team was used as an example. I clearly remember other violations that did not see as stiff a penalty. The crazy party was Nascar even admitted the plates were identical and offered no advantage but they were not approved so the penalty and fine was huge.

    If Nascar wants to hand out penalties they need to be the same for all drivers WITHOUT exception on MOST things.

    All things being equal rules are rules and no matter who breaks them the penalty should be the same. For example If Dale JR breaks a rule his penalty should be exactly the same as if Kurt Bush did the same thing.

    However the history of the driver can be taken into account in some cases. If a driver is a jerk and is always having some kind of drama or repeat problems on the track then that driver may get a stiffer penalty than a driver who never has any trouble.

    • gret9 - Apr 28, 2014 at 4:30 PM

      No, it would be worse. Little guy Carl Long had his NASCAR career ended when NASCAR fined him $200,000 for having an engine only .17 cubic inches oversized for the Sprint Showdown in 2009….an exhibition race.

    • jjackwagon - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:36 AM

      SO how does having illegal side plates relate to someone getting physical and then getting punched in the head? Try to stay on topic if you are going to post.

  12. onextinter123onextinter123 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:01 PM

    Let the drivers race and do what they always have done to settle disputes. The crews should stay out of it. And for God’s Sake get rid of those almost illiterate color commentators you have in the “Boogity,Boogity” booth. We don’t care what they did 20 years ago. There is a whole new breed of race car drivers and this why we watch. Let them race.

    • calbrown6 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      AMEN TO THAT “ONEXTINTER123ONEXTINTER123″!!! YOU CAN WATCH THE NFL, THE NBA, AND MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL AND YOU DON’T HAVE SOME IDIOT HOLLORING OVER THE AIR ” BOOGITY, BOOGITY, BOOGITY THERE GOES A HOME RUN”. STOCK CAR RACING IS SUPPOSE TO BE A WORLD WIDE SPORT BY NOW. IT DOESN’T NEED TO SOUND LIKE SOME INBREAD IN A MOBILE HOME LIVING IN A COW PASTURE! WE HAVE BIGGER THINGS TO WORRY ABOUT IN NASCAR THAN 2 MEN THROWING A COUPLE OF PUNTCHES!!!

  13. calbrown6 - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:21 PM

    LEAVE IT ALONE. FIRST MEARS GRABBED AMBROSE AND SLAMMED HIM INTO A TOOL BOX. AS A FORMER DIRT TRACK RACER THERE WAS AN UNWRITTEN RULE AT THE TRACKS THAT I RAN. YOU CAN RIP INTO ANOTHER DRIVER ALL YOU WANT BUT LAY A FINGER ON HIM AND YOU OPEN YOURSELF UP TO AN ASS WIPPEN!! NO MATTER WHAT WENT ON OUT ON THE TRACK I WOULD MUCH RATHER HAVE IT SOLVED IN THE PITS WITH A COUPLE OF PUNCHES THAN A HUGE WRECK AT BETTER THAN 200 MILES AN HOUR AT TALLEDAGA. JUST MOVE ON!!!

  14. intomidator - Apr 28, 2014 at 2:40 PM

    much ado about nothing…

    however, remove either the name “casey mears” or “marcos ambrose”, replace it with “danica patrick” and THEN we have something to write about…

    • jjackwagon - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:38 AM

      Mears v Patrick…I take Patrick
      Ambrose v Patrick…I take Ambrose

  15. ihunt4elk2 - Apr 28, 2014 at 3:05 PM

    So they showed a little bit of the competitive spirit, leave them be. If you want to do something for the sport, shut the mouth of that punk Keslowski. Every single week the same old crying game.

  16. chad4208 - Apr 28, 2014 at 7:35 PM

    Like if you think the writer of this article should be fired. He actually said Ambrose should be punished yet he also said he was just defending himself in the same breath. If that’s not being a hypocrite, what is?

  17. iwearshoesinhentucky - Apr 28, 2014 at 8:10 PM

    If NASCAR doesn’t have a rule that covers this they will just make one up on the fly…..and then include a provision to make sure the #24 makes the chase.

    • davidf95 - Aug 1, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      They already do. The use it all the time.

      Section 12-4-A: Actions detrimental to stock car racing

      Who determines these actions. King Mike Helton.

    • davidf95 - Aug 1, 2014 at 2:09 PM

      They already do. They use it all the time.

      Section 12-4-A: Actions detrimental to stock car racing

      Who determines these actions. King Mike Helton.

  18. aug99 - Apr 28, 2014 at 9:44 PM

    There should be NO PENALTIES.

    NASCAR NEEDS SOME ROUGH AND TUMBLE.

  19. jjackwagon - Apr 29, 2014 at 9:43 AM

    Look, these drivers are running on adrenalin for 4 hours, in rush hour traffic at 200 mph, where everyone is diving with a case of road rage. You can’t wave a checkered flag and expect them to just turn it off.
    Put up a boxing ring in the infield, give the drivers the ability to call-out anyone they want immediately following the race put boxing gloves or MMA gloves on them and let them got at it for a couple of rounds. Televise it and draw more market share. Then you will find out who is really mad and who is just a bitch.

  20. safaber3 - Apr 29, 2014 at 12:38 PM

    Ambrose got grabbed by Mears as he was walking away. What was Ambrose to do, ask not to get hit? He defended himself just like he should and not get any punishment for it. Mears(the instigator) and the crewman who hit Ambrose are the only ones who need a penalty if one is handed out. Give Ambrose a pat on the back for defending himself after he was trying to walk away from the situation.

    Mears should have waited to calm down. Our local race track rules say 20 minutes after the race before a driver goes into another driver’s pit. All the emotion and adrenalin are just an invitation for a disaster right after a race.

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