From the Marbles - NASCAR

Last Friday during qualifying in Las Vegas, a confrontation between Robby Gordon and his onetime driver Kevin Conway turned physical, and now word from NASCAR has come down: probation for Gordon for the rest of the year.

Both Gordon and Conway indicated that the argument did occur, and Gordon told that the dispute was "about a sponsor that didn't pay its bills." Gordon said no punches were thrown, but Conway disputed that as indicated by a police report he filed about the incident, according to Scene Daily.

"I don't mind stiff competition, but I want to make sure the hard facts are told," the ExtenZe-sponsored Conway said in a statement released Monday. (Aside: Bravo to Conway for attempting a subtle sponsor plug, but is this really the best place for that?) "On Friday night, Robby Gordon, who has a long history of issues in NASCAR, decided to ambush me in the garage area at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, completely unprovoked."

Conway went on to say that Gordon "shoved" Joe Nemechek, Conway's car owner, and added that "situations like this are not good for our sport ... Our fans, sponsors and NASCAR expect and deserve more from our competitors than this bullish, illegal behavior that was displayed by Robby against me."

On Tuesday, NASCAR agreed, serving Gordon with a probation that will last the remainder of 2011. NASCAR had issued an "indefinite" probation for Gordon on Saturday, and this action makes it definite.

The drivers have plenty of bad blood between them, and are suing each other over payment for the seven races Conway drove for Gordon in 2010. Gordon is charging that Extenze owes him $690,000 for those races; Conway, in turn, claims that Gordon owes him $27,000 through NASCAR's rookie of the year program. Conway failed to finish in six of those seven races, and placed 31st in the only race he did finish, the second outing at Fontana.

UPDATE: Wednesday morning, Robby Gordon Motorsports released the following statement:

"Kevin Conway and Robby Gordon had a heated exchange in the garage area this past weekend arising from Conway's and his sponsor ExtenZe's failure to pay RGM several hundred thousand dollars that they owe for promotional and driving benefits they received from participating in a series of NASCAR Sprint Cup races with cars prepared and supported by RGM.  Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Conway and his sponsor have failed to honor their financial obligations to NASCAR teams.  Conway and ExtenZe are also in litigation with Front Row Motorsports over unpaid NASCAR sponsorship obligations.  

"The brief exchange that occurred between Conway and Robby Gordon is the kind of thing that is normally handled between the involved parties.  It is unfortunate that Conway has chosen to use this insignificant event as a means of attracting publicity to himself, and it is particularly unfortunate that he has done so by making a series of false reports to others.  Contrary to Conway's account, no punches were thrown.  The simple truth is that Conway voluntarily and aggressively engaged in the exchange with Robby Gordon, and neither man was injured; Conway and ExtenZe have unsatisfied obligations to pay RGM several hundred thousand dollars; ExtenZe actively pursued and accepted the NASCAR promotional benefits for which it has not paid; Conway actively pursued and accepted the benefits of driving a race car in the Sprint Cup Series for which RGM has not been paid; and both Conway and ExtenZe knew that RGM expected to be paid in full for its work and costs in preparing and supporting that race car.  Conway would better serve the interests of our sport and the fans by making sure that he meets his personal financial obligations to our teams before engaging in publicity seeking behavior of this type.

"This is a matter that will now play out in the courts. RGM does not intend to comment further at this time."

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