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Appeals panel upholds RCR crew member suspensions

CONCORD, N.C. -- A three-member National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel unanimously upheld suspensions and fines to a pair of Richard Childress Racing crew members that stemmed from a post-race altercation at Richmond International Raceway.

Following a hearing that lasted approximately two hours at the NASCAR Research & Development Center, the original penalties reaffirmed for crew members Michael Scearce and Thomas Costello are four-race suspensions and fines of $15,000.

Richard Childress Racing has the ability to appeal Friday's ruling to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook, something the team hasn't yet decided.

"I need to go back and talk to Richard and consult with him, and we'll decide if we want to go any further," said RCR Chief Operating Officer Torrey Galida, who represented the team at Friday's hearing.

Both Scearce and Costello, who work for Brian Scott's No. 2 NASCAR Nationwide Series team, were arrested following a physical encounter with Turner Scott Motorsports driver Nelson Piquet Jr. and one of his friends at the driver/owner motorcoach lot after the ToyotaCare 250 had ended.

Scearce, a mechanic for Scott's No. 2 team, was charged with two misdemeanor counts of assault; Costello, an interior specialist, was charged with one misdemeanor assault count. No one else was charged.

"I just first wanted to say, everybody at Richard Childress Racing respects and supports the NASCAR appeals process," Galida said following the hearing. "We also respect and fully support NASCAR's right to protect the image for the sport both on and off the race track.

"We appealed the suspensions because we felt like it was unfair we were penalized twice, both with criminal action and with a penalty from NASCAR. We also felt like the penalty and the fine were excessively harsh."

NASCAR spokesman Kerry Tharp said the suspensions would go into effect next week at Dover International Speedway, because preparations at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Saturday's History 300 began earlier in the week.

The crew members would be eligible to return for the June 28 Nationwide Series race at Kentucky Speedway. They have a court date for the criminal charges sometime in late June, Galida said, and will be on probation through Dec. 31 as part of the original punishment.

The three members of the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel were Dick Berggren, a motorsports announcer and magazine editor; Ed Clark, president of Atlanta Motor Speedway; and Doug Fritz, president of Iowa Speedway and former president at Richmond International Raceway.?

The off-track incident that led to the punishment from NASCAR occurred after an on-track one, when Piquet bumped Scott late in the ToyotaCare 250 while battling for a spot in the top 15. Scott then cut across Piquet's path on the cool-down lap.

Following the race, Scott approached Piquet on pit road, and Piquet first shoved the driver and then kicked Scott in the groin, nearly causing a fight between the two pit crew teams.

The two had a lengthy meeting with series director Wayne Auton in the NASCAR hauler, and Piquet has since apologized.



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