Dale Earnhardt Jr and Casey Mears have been placed on probation by NASCAR following a post-race exchange at last weekend's Sprint Cup race at Phoenix.
During the closing stages of Saturday's race, Mears tapped the left-rear corner of Earnhardt's car after skidding up the track, spinning him into the barrier. Earnhardt was struggling with the balance of his car at that stage, having earlier led the race.
When Mears entered the pits after the race, Earnhardt hit and spun his Richard Childress Racing car. Mears then retaliated by crashing into the back of Earnhardt as the pair were driving back towards the garage area.
Having reviewed the incident, NASCAR officials decided to put both drivers on probation for the next six races, starting at Talladega this weekend.
"I didn't mean to get together with Dale Jr," said Mears after the race. "I think he was trying to save fuel and make it to the end without stopping, I wheel-hopped the car getting into the corner and ended up making contact with him.
"I guess he was a little bent out of shape about it because he spun me out after the checkered flag."
Earnhardt Jr's penalty adds to an already difficult season for the Hendrick driver. While all his teammates have won at least one race this year, Earnhardt Jr is 19th in the standings with a best result so far of eighth place at Bristol.