NASCAR has informed Kelly Heaphy, the girlfriend of race driver Mike Skeen who slapped Max Papis across the face following last Sunday's Chevrolet Silverado 250 NASCAR race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, that she is persona non grata at any NASCAR event for the foreseeable future.
Heaphy was fined $2,500 and will be denied access to any and all NASCAR events indefinitely as the result of assaulting Papis in the paddock after the race.
As I reported Sunday, The Slap Heard 'Round the World, as it will now be known, came after Papis emerged from his truck following the race, which attracted a huge attendance. Prior to this, he and Skeen had tangled at the last corner and each were convinced that the other had caused the accident.
After the checkered flag, Skeen had caught up to Papis on the track and the two had made hand gestures toward each other before Skeen banged his truck into Papis's several times. Both then made comments about the other that were less than complimentary and Skeen tried to get at Papis while Max was still inside his vehicle.
As Papis stood talking to people near his truck, a woman approached him and slapped him, hard. It was a mighty blow and Papis is to be congratulated for not retaliating.
I thought she should have been charged with assault. I don't think anybody has to file a complaint for police to act, particularly when video exists for all to see. I guarantee if somebody walked up to somebody else on the streets of downtown Toronto and did what this woman did to Papis, there would be a charge. Click here for the video and you be the judge.
NASCAR didn't hesistate in taking action, that's for sure. And in addition to Skeen's girlfriend, Bryan Berry, crew chief of Skeen's truck, was also fined $2,500 for a violation of Sections 12-1 and 1-4A of the NASCAR rule book (the crew chief assumes responsibility for the actions of his team members).
“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,” team co-owner Eddie Sharp Jr. said in a statement.
“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 first class event that NASCAR delivered in Canada. We have nothing but respect for NASCAR, and will not appeal the penalty assessed to crew chief Bryan Berry.”
NASCAR racing of all kinds is a contact sport. But, like fights in hockey, the participants are expected to get control of their emotions when the event ends - or else.
This was an "or else."