Beth Lunkenheimer · Thursday September 5, 2013
Unless you’ve been living under a rock since Sunday’s inaugural Camping World Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, you’ve undoubtedly heard about the post-race slap that Max Papis received. For those that aren’t aware of what happened, Papis and Mike Skeen spent the final few laps on Sunday afternoon beating and banging for position inside the top 10. And on the final circuit, as Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon were battling for the win, Skeen turned across the front end of the No. 14, sending himself into the tire barrier. After a substantial amount of gesturing before heading to pit road, Skeen’s girlfriend, Kelly Heaphy, made her way toward Papis and slapped him. Though initial reports said the slap dislocated his jaw, the Italian later backed off on those claims a little, claiming the misunderstanding came from his unfamiliarity with the English language.
Fast forward to Wednesday when NASCAR made it very clear that Heaphy’s actions were unacceptable. The sanctioning body issued a $2,500 fine to Skeen’s crew chief, Bryan Berry under sections 12-1 and 9-4A (Crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of his team members). Additionally, Heaphy was fined $2,500 and barred from all NASCAR events indefinitely.
Not long after the penalties were announced, SGR co-owner Eddie Sharp, Jr. issued a statement on behalf of the team and said there are no plans to appeal.
“I’d like to apologize to our sponsors, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and especially the fans on behalf of everyone at Sharp-Gallaher Racing for the incident that occurred following Sunday’s race,” SGR co-owner Eddie Sharp, Jr. said. “Although Kelly Heaphy is not an employee of SGR, we absolutely do not condone actions such as these from anyone associated with our organization. It is a shame that this overshadowed the fist cleass even that NASCAR delivered in Canada.”
At this point, it’s almost amusing to think that these penalties and all of the talk surrounding the incident could have been avoided if Skeen’s girlfriend would have just let him handle his own battles. Sure, she was upset that her boyfriend was wrecked on the final lap of the race, but she missed two things. First, he did it to himself when he drove across Papis’ front end and second, it’s not her job to step in when she feels like Skeen has been wronged on the track. NASCAR may be trying to let the “boys have at it,” but that doesn’t mean that just anyone in the garage area can get involved and expect everything to be just fine.
Several people have brought up the incident between Papis and Billy Johnson earlier this year at Road America. Papis gave Johnson, who still had his helmet on at the time, a light slap following the conclusion of the Nationwide Series event in June to share his displeasure with how the young driver raced him. But the reality is that the situation on Sunday was a completely different one than the one in June. In June, the incident was between the two drivers involved the on-track incident. It wasn’t like Papis’ wife went chasing after Johnson and slapped him.
And guess what…no penalties were issued for that incident.
In both instances, NASCAR actually made the correct call. Had they done nothing in response to Heaphy’s actions on Sunday, there likely would have been more incidents just like them. I do wonder, however, how Skeen feels about his girlfriend no longer being able to attend NASCAR events with him. With that said, it is unfortunate that Berry has to pay a fine based on someone else’s actions, especially since he probably didn’t expect Heaphy to blow her top and lose her cool so easily, and honestly, I would have been just fine if that part of the penalty didn’t exist.
The bottom line is that in NASCAR racing—or any type for that matter—wrecks will happen. It’s a part of the sport, and there will be times when one driver feels wronged by another. But those problems should be handled between the drivers, not those that are there supporting them. Sure, we’ve seen the sanctioning body issue penalties based on post-race altercations in the past, but I’m almost willing to bet that we wouldn’t even be talking about this one anymore if it were for who did the slapping. But by this time next week, the slap will likely be old news following Ty Dillon’s promise that Chase Elliott won’t finish the race this weekend in Iowa. I guess we’ll have to just tune in and see what happens.
Update: “I’m a big fan of Iowa Speedway; it’s a track where I have consistently performed well since the beginning of my career, and it’s a place where Turner Scott Motorsports has always excelled. We’re bringing the same truck we brought earlier this season, and we learned a lot last time, so it’s going to be even better this time. Our team is carrying a lot of momentum right now; we’ve had top-five finishes in three of our last four races and we’re chipping away at the point standings. Our goal is to keep getting those top fives, keep having good points weeks, and hopefully that first win will find me.” Miguel Paludo
Tweet of the Week
@miguelpaludo: Great points day yesterday. I won’t say any more that the win is coming…it’s somewhere and it will find me. On to Iowa.
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