Crew chief suspended for racial slur
NASCAR suspended crew chief Bryan Berry indefinitely on Thursday for what his team owner, Rusty Wallace, termed "an alleged racial slur" against African-American driver Marc Davis at last Saturday night's Nationwide race.
NASCAR spokesman Ramsey Poston termed the violation "an inappropriate comment that won't be tolerated."
Berry is crew chief for Brendan Gaughan on the Wallace team. During Saturday night's race at Nashville Superspeedway, Gaughan was entering his pit and hit Davis, who was trying to turn left through a gap in the pit wall. Both cars were heavily damaged.
Gaughan returned to the track, but on the radio he ordered his crew to not let Davis, 19, leave the track until "he sees me." Gaughan also complained vehemently to ESPN reporters after the race.
Wallace agreed that the incident was "a perfect storm" that was neither driver's fault.
NASCAR officials confirmed that Berry and some crewmen went to Davis' garage stall and that Berry approached Davis' window net yelling at him.
NASCAR's statement said Berry was suspended for violating Section 12-1 of the Nationwide rule book, which is "actions detrimental to stock car racing; involved in an altercation with another team."
The reasons for the penalty "were his [Berry's] actions and what he said," Poston said.
"Bryan looked me in the eye and told me he didn't say it," Wallace said. "But NASCAR said they had two people, two sponsorship representatives [for the Davis team] who heard it. I don't know who to believe."
Wallace said he did tell Berry directly, "I hope to God you didn't do what they said you did."
Wallace said he scheduled meeting for the entire Rusty Wallace Racing team for 8 p.m. Friday, with the intention of telling all personnel, "I'd better not ever hear that out of our team."
The Davis team issued a statement Thursday saying, "Mr. Gaughan and his crew actions do not merit response. NASCAR has resolved the issue."
Davis declined to comment through his father.
"Marc said he doesn't want to talk about it," Harry Davis said. The elder Davis said he did not witness the garage altercation, and when Marc met him to leave the track in a family car, "He said, 'Dad, let's just go.' "
None of the parties involved would reveal the exact nature of the alleged epithets, but one source familiar with the situation called it "worse than Hickory" and "ugly."
When Marc Davis was a developmental driver in 2006, a group of fans at Hickory Speedway in North Carolina reportedly chanted "[n-word] go home!" after he was involved in a bumping incident with a white driver.
"He's been through so much stuff, you think you're finished with that level," Harry Davis said. "Then you get bitten again . . ."
Wallace said NASCAR told him that "their goal is to get Bryan back into NASCAR as soon as they can," and that part of the conditions for Berry's return include sensitivity training.
In Berry's absence, Wallace said, car chief Shane Huffman will move to crew chief for Gaughan, beginning with Saturday night's race at Kentucky Speedway.
Ed Hinton is a senior writer for ESPN.com.