Tantrum in Michigan costly one for M. Waltrip

June 25, 1995|By Mark Armijo | Mark Armijo,Arizona Republic

Ken Schrader knew Michael "Hands of Stone" Waltrip was in deep financial trouble as soon as he saw Waltrip land the first blow.

Waltrip, NASCAR Winston Cup fans might remember, climbed out of his stock car at the conclusion of last Sunday's race at Michigan International Speedway and punched driver Lake Speed, who was still in his car, in the face twice for an incident that happened on the racetrack.

Not only was Speed still wearing his racing helmet, which prevented injury, the entire episode was caught on television.

Two months ago, Ricky Rudd crew chief Billy Ingle was fined $250 for punching driver Ted Musgrave.

"I was kidding around with NASCAR [officials] about that and I said, 'You mean for $1,000 I could hit four people?' " Schrader said. "Their response was the next time someone gets hit, there will be several more zeros."

Waltrip, who won't appeal, was fined $10,000.

"What I did was wrong," Waltrip said. "Who am I to judge what it's supposed to cost [me]. That's a lot of money, but I thought it was just. I don't feel like arguing about it."

Waltrip, however, still believes Speed was wrong. Waltrip claims Speed put him in a precarious position on the racetrack by forcing him out of the groove and up near the wall.

"That's the bad part of it," Waltrip said. "He could have hurt me. He could have wrecked me and tore up my car and got me seriously injured.

"I went over there [after the race] to basically tell him I wasn't too happy with him and I got carried away.. . . .

Schrader and Sterling Marlin, who with Waltrip drove an International Motor Contest Association modified car in an exhibition race Thursday at Devil's Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas, said NASCAR views such incidents differently.

"NASCAR don't like fighting and they don't like cheating," Marlin said.

Not everyone is upset, however.

While in Texas, Waltrip was asked by a female fan to autograph a pair of boxing gloves.

Bad run of luck

You have to wonder how well Dale Jarrett is sleeping these days.

Remember, Jarrett chose to leave Winston Cup owner Joe Gibbs' team after last season, opting to fill in for injured Ernie Irvan at Robert Yates racing.

But midway through this season, Jarrett, with one bad break after another, has slipped to 14th place in the standings.

Meanwhile, Bobby Labonte, Jarrett's replacement at Gibbs Racing, is sixth.

Despite Jarrett's poor finishes, his talent behind the steering wheel is unquestioned. And although he will be out of a job when Irvan is given medical clearance to drive again -- Irvan is recovering from massive head and chest injuries he suffered in a crash last August -- Jarrett is being wooed by many teams.

Jarrett, however, will form his own team if he is able to acquire the necessary sponsorship.

Injury update

Indy-car driver Stan Fox remains in an Indianapolis hospital after suffering a severe head injury in the Indy 500. Fox, however, is in fair condition. A hospital spokesman said Fox opens his eyes for short periods. Fox also can follow simple commands.

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