Garage Chatter: Martinsville

Hmiel penalized: Driver Shane Hmiel was penalized 25 points and fined $10,000 for an inappropriate gesture during the Busch series event at Bristol. Hmiel has also been placed on probation until August 31, 2005. Hmiel came under fire for a...

Hmiel penalized: Driver Shane Hmiel was penalized 25 points and fined $10,000 for an inappropriate gesture during the Busch series event at Bristol. Hmiel has also been placed on probation until August 31, 2005.

Hmiel came under fire for a series of rough driving incidents during the Bristol event. One of which included former Nextel champion Dale Jarrett, Hmiel punted Jarrett during the closing laps of the race and then ranted how Jarrett didn't have much time left and needed to retire.

This is not the first time Hmiel has been in trouble with NASCAR. IN 2003, Hmiel failed a drug test and was suspended from any NASCAR series until 2004. NASCAR has been repeatedly testing Hmiel about 12-15 times since the incident.

"He (Hmiel) didn't accomplish a lot then get a lot of people mad, Shane came out the loser in that deal," said Jeff Burton driver of the No. 31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet. "Whether you are 43 or 23 there is a certain level of respect you need to show as competitors. When someone makes a comment like that it is across the line. It didn't do him any justice and it didn't do the sport any justice."

Busch to run Crown Royal this weekend: Kurt Busch and the No. 97 Roush team will run the first of five races as the primary sponsor on Busch's Ford.

Kurt Busch also participated in several Public Service Announcement (PSA) on responsible drinking. The PSA is part of Crown Royal's commitment to promote responsible drinking with millions of NASCAR's adult fans through its "Be a Champion. Drink Responsibly." campaign. The PSA is scheduled to air throughout the summer and fall months. Crown Royal has unveiled a national television commercial starring the #97 Ford Taurus.

Nextel announced All-Star plans: The Nextel All-Star Challenge has been set for May 21rst at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

The all-star evening begins with the Nextel All-Star Challenge Open, a 30- lap sprint divided into two segments, the first 20 laps and the second 10 laps. Two Open drivers will transfer to the all-star event, one by winning the Open and the other by winning a fan vote.

Next up is the Nextel All-Star Challenge. The 90-lap / 135-mile event will be divided into 40-, 30- and 20-lap segments and no driver will be eliminated after the first two segments to give the full field a chance to compete in the final segment.

During the 10-minute pit stop between the first and second segments, a random drawing will determine whether as few as six or as many as 12 cars will be inverted.

Defending champion Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeremy Mayfield, Joe Nemechek, Ryan Newman, Elliott Sadler, Tony Stewart and Rusty Wallace; 2005 race winners Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick; past event champions Terry Labonte (1999) and Michael Waltrip (1996); and past series champions Bobby Labonte (2000) and Dale Jarrett (1999).

Two other events will compliment the All-Star weekend: the return of the Pit Crew Challenge to be held at the Charlotte Coliseum and a 10-day trophy tour that will take the All-Star trophy through various North Carolina cities.

First weekend under new qualifying procedure: Martinsville marks the first weekend of NASCAR's new qualifying procedure. The top 35 in owner's points are locked into the field.

FROM PRESS RELEASE: Beginning in 2005, teams outside the top 35 must qualify on speed for each week's 43 starting spots. The top 35 designation guarantees a spot in the field for those teams; beginning with the season- opening Daytona 500 and running through last week's Food City 500 at Bristol, the top 35 in 2004 owner championship points was the yardstick. Beginning in Martinsville -- the season's sixth race -- the current top 35 teams in owner championship points become the yardstick.

The reason behind the decision to eliminate the previous system is simple: Teams now earn starting spots instead of relying on an accrued number of provisionals, which means the most competitive 43 cars now make each race field.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Burton , Jeff Gordon , Dale Jarrett , Matt Kenseth , Jeremy Mayfield , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Michael Waltrip , Kevin Harvick , Greg Biffle , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Shane Hmiel , Carl Edwards , Elliott Sadler , Mark Martin