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NASCAR Fines Earnhardt for Reckless Driving

February 25, 1986

Dale Earnhardt was fined $5,000, put under a $10,000 bond and placed on probation for the rest of the 1986 Winston Cup season because of reckless driving at Sunday's Miller 400 in Richmond, Va., NASCAR officials said Monday.

Earnhardt was leading the race with three laps remaining when Darrell Waltrip was passing him on the back straightaway at the Richmond Fairgrounds Raceway.

NASCAR officials, who reviewed films of the final laps, said Earnhardt made an irresponsible move and caused an accident with Waltrip. The resulting wreck extensively damaged both men's cars and those of several other drivers. No one was injured.

Kyle Petty maneuvered his car through the crash for the victory. Joe Ruttman finished second with Earnhardt third.

"I misjudged the distance between the cars," Earnhardt said. "I turned him sideways. It's my fault. I'm not denying that. I made a mistake and hit him. But I don't think I'm guilty of reckless driving or wrecking somebody purposely. It was an accident."

Said Bill Gazaway, NASCAR's vice president for competition: "There is a fine line between hard racing and reckless driving, and Earnhardt clearly stepped over that line Sunday. We simply cannot tolerate or condone such actions. We must preserve the integrity of our sport."

NASCAR spokesman Andy Hall said the bond was due immediately, but "that money is subject to refund, depending on how Earnhardt lives up to the conditions of his probation."

Earnhardt said he did not know the conditions of the probation. He said that he planned to appeal the fine.

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