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Berrier in hot water once again

TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Crew chief Todd Berrier was suspended for
Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway after Kevin Harvick's car
failed inspection.

Harvick qualified second for the race, but his Chevrolet was
disqualified after NASCAR found three violations in the trunk area.
Car owner Richard Childress was called into the NASCAR office
Saturday morning and informed Berrier was ordered from the track.

It's not clear how long the suspension will last. Berrier sat
out four races at the beginning of this season when he was caught
rigging Harvick's fuel tank. He also was fined $25,000 and the team
was docked points.

Childress spent an hour arguing with NASCAR on Berrier's behalf.

"If I said what I wanted to say right now I'd probably be in
bigger trouble than Todd," Childress said. "All I can say is it's
a new era in NASCAR."

Harvick's car failed inspection Friday because the trunk area
was not properly sealed, the fuel vent was not vented to the
outside of the car and doors that open from the inside of the trunk
to the car's shock absorbers were open when they should have been
closed.

He will now start 42nd on Sunday and Childress said he would
move on top of the pit box to help call Harvick's race. Childress
did the same thing during Berrier's first suspension and the team
responded by winning the race in Bristol, Tenn.

Berrier's punishment comes amid a swirling controversy
surrounding the 1-2 finish last weekend of Hendrick Motorsports
drivers Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. Both cars failed their
immediate inspection when both were too high when first measured.

NASCAR gave the cars a brief amount of time to "settle," and
the cars then shifted back to a legal height.

Although the teams were not penalized, NASCAR seized their shock
absorbers to take a closer look at them. While ruling the parts
were legal, NASCAR issued a bulletin Saturday that prohibits them
from future use.

Many competitors were angry the Hendrick teams were not
penalized, especially Childress.

Both Johnson and Busch failed inspection in March -- the same
weekend Harvick did -- and NASCAR suspended all three crew chiefs.
But Chad Knaus and Alan Gustafson had their suspensions overturned
on appeal, creating a fury over alleged special treatment.

Childress wouldn't address that Saturday, and said his anger was
directed "at the system. I'm very, very disappointed in the
system."

NASCAR spokesman Jim Hunter denied favoritism and said that
Berrier was sent home because "a person's history comes into
play."

That was echoed by competition director Robin Pemberton, who
said NASCAR is following a warning issued last week by president
Mike Helton that it will no longer tolerate bad behavior and
cheating.

"These were repeat offenders," Pemberton said.

That was of little solace to NASCAR competitors, who are angry
and confused over NASCAR's decision not to punish the Hendrick
drivers.

"The first two cars last week are so obviously doing something
on the racetrack that is of benefit to them, then they don't pass
inspection and they're allowed to sit there and jump up and down on
their cars and do whatever they need to do to get through?" asked
an incredulous Dale Jarrett.

"I didn't realize they had a 24-hour period they could wait for
these things to settle down. I'm fired up about this. I don't
understand it."