News & Media

NASCAR warns Busch, Harvick early in race

June 13, 2011, Sporting News Wire Service,

LONG POND, Pa. -- All NASCAR had to see was Kevin Harvick shoving Kyle Busch down the frontstretch early in Sunday's race.

Close to each other from the outset, the drivers had raced each other hard, with Harvick repeatedly crowding Busch as they battled for position. But the last straw was the push down the frontstretch, when Busch broke out of line, and Harvick followed him to the inside, glued to the bumper of Busch's No. 18 Toyota.

NASCAR warned both teams to stop fooling around and race, a warning that shouldn't have been necessary, given that both drivers are on probation through June 15 for a post-race confrontation May 7 at Darlington.

That brought an indignant response from Busch, who told crew chief Dave Rogers that only one driver needed the warning.

"The 29 [Harvick] is all over me," Busch said.

Rogers tried to calm his driver.

"Keep your composure in that race car, bud," Rogers radioed to Busch. "I've lost mine about four times already."

Mall trip at Pocono indicative of Earnhardt's growing confidence

Those looking for signs of newfound confidence in Dale Earnhardt Jr. had to go 10 miles east of Pocono Raceway to find it Saturday.

Earnhardt turned a few heads with a surprise appearance at a large outlet mall in Tannersville, Pa., where he and crew chief Steve Letarte spent the afternoon shopping. Letarte reportedly turned down a chance to go fishing to spend time with his driver.

Not surprisingly, one of the stops was at the adidas store, a brand Earnhardt endorses. The driver of the No. 88 car also made purchases at a variety of other outlets and stopped to chat briefly with Joey Logano's crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, who also was making the rounds.

For Earnhardt fans, the surprise public appearance was a welcome signal -- a coming-out party of sorts -- and a symbol of the closeness and trust he has developed with Letarte, who moved from Jeff Gordon's No. 24 Chevy to Earnhardt's No. 88 during the offseason.

As Earnhardt struggled during 2009 and 2010, he became more reclusive. Saturday's trip to the mall was a refreshing change.

Interestingly, reporters who also were shopping at the mall (a popular stop on the Cup circuit) didn't see a single fan ask Earnhardt for an autograph, either out of respect for his privacy or -- more likely -- because they didn't recognize him in street clothes.

Earnhardt finished sixth Sunday, his eighth top-10 of the year, which equals his total for the entire 2010 season.