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Harvick gets NASCAR's message loud and clear

| Wednesday, April 17, 2002

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kevin Harvick got the message.

NASCAR's decision to park him for a race was a wake-up call that his temper is getting the best of him, the 26-year-old driver said Tuesday.

Harvick, who was forbidden to race Sunday at Martinsville Speedway for rough driving, said it "tore him up" to watch from home as Kenny Wallace drove his car.

"I haven't been racing since I was 5 years old and made it this far in my career to throw it all away now," he said. "Having to miss the race in Martinsville definitely got my attention."

Harvick was sent home from Martinsville after spinning out Coy Gibbs during Saturday's truck race. The two had been bumping and banging during the course of the race and the final retaliatory spin by Harvick led NASCAR to call him off the track and to their hauler.

In another act of defiance, he pulled his truck up to the hauler, instead of taking it to its garage stall and walking over, as most drivers do. He also left it sitting there after NASCAR dismissed him.

So, the sanctioning body forbade him from driving in Sunday's Winston Cup race and fined him $35,000 on Monday.

NASCAR also extended his probation, which was first handed down after he grabbed Busch series driver Greg Biffle in a post-race altercation last month, until the end of the year.

Harvick, who took over at Richard Childress Racing following Dale Earnhardt's death last year, said he is still feeling his way around the sport.

"I'm still learning how NASCAR works and what is involved in the decisions they make," he said. "They are trying to create a fair playing field with those decisions, and they're not out to get anyone. In all reality, you make and control your own destiny in this sport."

Harvick has drawn attention in the past year for his driving skills and his hot temper.

He became the first driver to run both a complete Busch series and a Winston Cup schedule, winning the Busch title and earning rookie of the year honors in Cup.

But he clashed several times last season with Biffle in the Busch series and angered Cup veterans for his aggressiveness. Some began calling him "The Instigator" — a play off Earnhardt's nickname, "The Intimidator."

Harvick, who said several drivers called in the past few days to offer support and advice, also thanked his Winston Cup team and sponsor for tolerating his actions and apologized to them for being punished for something they had nothing to do with. Harvick and his wife own the truck he occasionally races in that series.

"I wish that my team and GM Goodwrench Service weren't dragged into a situation that they had nothing to do with," he said. "For that, I want to thank everyone at RCR and GM Goodwrench Service for sticking with me."

  • Suspended NASCAR driver Sammy Potashnick will undergo drug evaluation as part of a plea agreement on drug possession charges. The 27-year-old Potashnick, a driver in the NASCAR Winston West Series, pleaded no contest to the charge of illegal possession of hydrocodone — a prescription painkiller. In exchange for Potashnick agreeing to the drug evaluation, prosecutors said they will drop the charges against him. The program is common for first-time criminal offenders. Potashnick will be discharged after six months, but must be evaluated.

    BOXING

  • Former heavyweight champions Evander Holyfield and Hasim Rahman will meet in a June 1 bout that marks Don King's return to New Jersey as a promoter for the first time in four years. The boxers were scheduled to announce the fight today in New York City. The bout at Boardwalk Hall may be as significant as a comeback milestone for boxing in Atlantic City as it is for the fighters. Holyfield is 37-5-2 with 25 knockouts. Rahman is 35-3 with 29 knockouts. Both are ranked among the top 10 heavyweights by both the WBC and WBA.

  • Promoter Russell Peltz has filed a federal lawsuit claiming that he's owed millions of dollars for tapes of 200 classic bouts that were part of a film library sold to ESPN. Peltz, who earned the nickname "The Boy Wonder" as a fight manager in 1970s, said he licensed his collection of one-of-a-kind fight tapes to promoter William Cayton in 1982. As part of the arrangement, Cayton was to combine Peltz's tapes with his own fight film collection, then cut Peltz in on any profits from exploiting the library, according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. Peltz claims that Cayton sold the collection to ESPN for $80 million in 1998, then conspired to hide the sale. Cayton instead paid Peltz occasional royalties when the bouts were shown on programs such as "Friday Night Fights," the lawsuit claims. An ESPN spokesman confirmed that the cable sports network had purchased a film library from Cayton's company, The Big Fights Inc., but declined to disclose the financial details of the sale.

    COLLEGE BASKETBALL

  • Lehigh University hired Billy Taylor, a former assistant at Notre Dame and the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, as its men's basketball coach. Taylor replaces Sal Mentesana, who was fired after the team went 5-23 this past season. Mentesana had a 43-124 record in six years at Lehigh.

  • Gannon signed three men's basketball players to letters of intent for next season. They are Chad Hunt of Perry, Ohio; Shelby Chaney of Warren, Ohio; and Demondi Johnson of Niagara Falls, N.Y. Hunt, a 6-foot-5 guard, averaged 19.2 points, 6.4 rebounds, 2.1 steals, 2.0 assists and 1.1 blocks last season for Perry High School. He also shot 46.1 percent, including 46.6 percent (55 for 118) from 3-point range. Chaney, a 6-8 forward, averaged 11 points and 9 rebounds for Warren Harding High School, and Johnson, a 5-11 point guard, averaged 12 points, 8 assists and 5 steals for Niagara Falls High School.

  • Seton Hill College signed Lindsay Dixon of Derry Area to a letter of intent to play women's basketball and volleyball next season. Dixon is the all-time leading scorer at Derry with 1,047 points and is a two-time all-section player in girls volleyball.

    PRO BASKETBALL

  • San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson was placed on the injured list with a lower back strain. The Spurs activated center Amal McCaskill to take Robinson's place on the roster for last night's game against Phoenix. Robinson hurt his back in the first half of Friday's victory in Detroit, but stayed in the game to finish with 10 points and 10 rebounds in 31 minutes. He did not play in San Antonio's win in Memphis on Sunday.

  • Latrell Sprewell made it to his team's pre-game shootaround yesterday and said the New York Knicks went "overboard" and were "too severe" by suspending him for last Sunday's game against Miami.

    CROSS COUNTRY

  • St. Vincent College signed Matt Robson of Erie Cathedral Prep to a letter of intent to run cross country next season. Robson earned seven letters in high school (four in cross country and three in track and field) and was a PIAA cross country qualifier last season.

    COLLEGE FOOTBALL

  • Commissioners of the six major conferences met again in Phoenix to discuss possible adjustments to the controversial BCS setup, which selects the teams for college football's national championship game. After a second day of meetings, no decisions were reached. "We have decided to continue the discussions over the next couple of months," said ACC commissioner John Swofford, the outgoing BCS coordinator who passed the role on to Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese. "We looked at a broad range of potential changes and feel that more time is needed to study and discuss the matter." Topics under discussion include cutting back or even eliminating the role of computer ratings, one of the five components used to determine the top two teams at the end of the regular season. Also on the table is dropping the margin-of-victory portion of computer ratings and perhaps adding a supervisory committee to the BCS process. The commissioners are set to meet again June 17-21 in San Francisco.

    GOLF

  • Vijay Singh, the second-round leader of last weekend's Masters Tournament, will be sidelined indefinitely with an injured left foot, his agent said. Singh has plantar fascitis, which causes pain in the arch and blisters on the foot, said Clarke Jones, Singh's agent with IMG. He added that Singh's foot became worse Sunday night, after a seventh-place finish at the Masters, his eighth tournament in nine weeks. Singh fell out of contention with a quadruple-bogey 9 on the 15th hole on Sunday's final round. He finished seven strokes behind Masters winner Tiger Woods.

    HOCKEY

  • A minor league hockey coach has been charged with possession of nearly 100 pounds of marijuana. Trent Eigner, coach of the El Paso Buzzards of the Central Hockey League, turned himself in to face a felony charge of marijuana possession. Eigner was released on bond, according to jail records, about six hours before El Paso lost, 4-3, to the Austin Ice Bats in the the final game of the CHL semifinal playoff series.

  • Mark Johnson, a member of the "Miracle on Ice" gold-medal hockey team and an 11-year NHL veteran, has been appointed assistant coach for the United States men's hockey team. Johnson, of Madison, Wis., replaces Don Lucia, who stepped down as assistant coach for personal reasons, USA Hockey president Walter Bush said. Johnson spent six seasons as assistant hockey coach at the University of Wisconsin and was assistant coach for the 2000 U.S. hockey team. As a player, Johnson was a member of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team, and spent 11 years in the NHL.

  • Mercyhurst College signed Samanta Shirley of Mississauga, Ontario, a 5-10 forward, to a letter of intent to play women's hockey next season. Shirley captained the team that won the Provincial Championship and Team Ontario, which won a gold medal at the 2001 Nationals. She also played for the Mississauga Chiefs and was voted the team's athlete of the year in 1997. Among the other schools interested in Shirley was Brown, this year's NCAA Division I runner-up.

    Maple Leafs backup goalie Tom Barrasso is out indefinitely after breaking his right hand in the final game of the regular season.

    FOOTBALL

  • The Jacksonville Jaguars re-signed free-agent offensive tackle Todd Fordham , the team said. Fordham started 12 games at left tackle last season in place of the injured Tony Boselli .

  • The Dallas Cowboys re- signed linebacker Dat Nguyen , a restricted free agent, to a six- year contract, the team said.

    BASKETBALL

    Ambridge basketball player Kelly Calderone made an verbal commitment to play basketball for the University at Buffalo. A 5-7 junior guard who started for Ambridge the past three years, Calderone averaged 18 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.5 steals per game for the Bridgers, who finished 22-3 this past season. Calderone also is a member of the Pittsburgh Rockers AAU team. SOFTBALL

  • Seton Hill College signed Mary Kathleen Strimel of Quigley to a letter of intent to play softball next season. Strimel was invited to play in the European Union Games this summer in Limerick, Ireland.

    SOCCER

  • Seton Hill College signed Michael Fecik of Plum and David Baker of Quaker Valley to letters of intent to play men's soccer next season. Baker played for Quaker Valley's state runner-up teams in 1998 and '99.

    TENNIS

  • Top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt lost his debut at the Monte Carlo Masters, falling, 6-4, 6-3, to unseeded Carlos Moya in a first-round match. Andy Roddick won his tournament debut, beating Chilean qualifier Fernando Gonzalez, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (7).

  • Top-seeded Martina Sucha of Slovakia narrowly avoided a first-round upset at the Budapest Open, beating Iveta Benesova of the Czech Republic, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Not so lucky was seventh-seeded Elena Bovina of Russia, who lost, 7-6 (1), 6-4, to Bulgaria's Lubomira Bacheva, ranked 129th in the world.

    TRACK AND FIELD

  • The protracted dispute over a drug test by a member of the U.S. Olympic track team in Sydney will be decided in binding arbitration. The case involves an unidentified American athlete who tested positive for steroids but was allowed by USA Track & Field to compete in the 2000 Olympics after winning an appeal. The U.S. federation has been widely criticized for refusing to release names of athletes who fail drug tests. IOC president Jacques Rogge recently called the U.S. organization's position incomprehensible, and Dick Pound, head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, urged the IAAF to expel USATF.

    VOLLEYBALL

  • Youngstown State University signed Abby Ettenhofer, a 6-foot-1 right-side hitter from Hebron (Ohio) Lakewood High School, and Katie Shea, 6-2 middle hitter from East Aurora (Ohio) High School.

    OFF THE FIELD

  • A grand jury will decide whether Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damon Stoudamire should be charged with felony drug possession. Stoudamire was investigated by Lake Oswego police, who forwarded their case to the Clackamas County District Attorney's office, prosecutor's spokesman Dave Paul said. The Lake Oswego police report "contains allegations of felony drug possession against Damon Stoudamire," Paul said in a statement. The report will be presented to a grand jury, which will determine whether there is enough evidence to charge the player. The 28-year-old Stoudamire has not been arrested or charged with any crime, "and is presumed innocent," the statement said.

  • Police have obtained the results of DNA samples gathered in an investigation into an alleged gang rape involving Colorado football players and recruits. CU police Lt. Tim McGraw said that authorities would interview several people before deciding whether to file charges. The investigation could be complete by the end of the month. Four Colorado football players and two recruits from California and Texas submitted DNA samples for testing.

  • A civil court jury is being asked to decide whether Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis is liable for injuries two women suffered during a brawl in a bar in 1999.

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