published Saturday, June 11th, 2011

NASCAR passion ‘private’ but evident

Team owner Richard Childress speaks to the media before practice for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-hour ENERGY 500 auto race on Friday in Long Pond, Pa. Childress was fined $150,000 on Monday for assaulting Kyle Busch after a NASCAR Trucks race at Kansas Speedway, the latest incident between the driver and Childress' race teams. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)
Team owner Richard Childress speaks to the media before practice for Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 5-hour ENERGY 500 auto race on Friday in Long Pond, Pa. Childress was fined $150,000 on Monday for assaulting Kyle Busch after a NASCAR Trucks race at Kansas Speedway, the latest incident between the driver and Childress' race teams. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

LONG POND, Pa. — Richard Childress refuses to talk about what he did to Kyle Busch. Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya won’t talk about secret fines or threatened lawsuits.

What the owner and drivers are so hush-hush about is exactly what everyone in or around NASCAR is talking about. The action on the track Friday was secondary to what the key players involved in two big dustups weren’t discussing.

Childress stepped out of Jeff Burton’s hauler Friday at Pocono Raceway for a Q&A that took no Q’s and gave very few A’s. His 90-second remarks were nearly identical to his statement from earlier this week that NASCAR was right to fine him and place him on probation for assaulting Busch. The owner just won’t apologize to Busch for the incident.

There was one slight addition: Childress said he wished NASCAR had done something to Busch after the driver bumped into Joey Coulter on the cool-down lap after the Trucks race at Kansas Speedway.

The 65-year-old grandfather apparently approached Busch after the Trucks race, placed him in a headlock and punched him several times (think of the classic Nolan Ryan-Robin Ventura clip).

“He was probably a little surprised he got in that situation,” Burton said. “But everybody has their limits. You push anybody hard enough and you’ll find that limit.”

Newman found his after he allegedly punched Montoya during a meeting last month at Darlington. Rumors surfaced that Newman was secretly fined $50,000 and that Montoya considered taking legal action against Newman.

Montoya declined to comment after Friday’s practice.

Newman did not deny he was fined.

“I’ve always said that private things happen privately and what happens in the trailer stays in the trailer,” Newman said. “There is a reason that we have private meetings, and there is a reason that NASCAR does things the way they do.”

However, Newman and Denny Hamlin both admitted at last year’s Pocono race that they had been secretly fined by NASCAR for speaking against the organization.

“I do know that when we are talking about fines, whether it is private or public, there is nothing really we should elaborate on because it is not something that our sport should be proud of,” Newman said. “It’s not something that is good for our sport, so it’s not something we want to keep talking about.”

Since the Darlington meeting, both Newman and Montoya have declined to say what happened in the hauler.

Who needs green-white-checkered finishes to keep people talking?

Not all punishments are issued in the dark. The 65-year-old Childress was fined $150,000 and placed on probation through the rest of the year for going after Busch.

After racing Coulter hard in the closing laps at Kansas last Saturday, Busch bumped into the 21-year-old on the cool-down lap. Childress had grown tired of Busch damaging RCR equipment and decided to roll up his sleeves and take action.

“He old-school’d him,” ARCA driver Frank Kimmel said.

“I am passionate about my race teams, our fans and I let my emotions come in front of my passion,” Childress said. “But that is behind us.”

Busch said he had no malicious intent in bumping Coulter.

“My giving a congratulatory bump to Joey Coulter is what tipped him over the edge there,” Busch said.

RCR driver Kevin Harvick — on probation for an earlier altercation with Busch — appreciated having an owner sticking up for his team.

“We’ve all got his back. As you can tell, he’s always got ours,” Harvick said. “It is fun to drive for a guy that has got the passion and the desire to do what you have to do to be a part of this sport.”

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