Fan who climbed Richmond track fence sentenced to jail

BY Jared Turner • December 11, 2014

The fan who climbed the catchfence during the September Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond International Raceway is headed to jail.

According to a report from NBC's Richmond affiliate, NBC12, a judge found James Dennis guilty on Thursday of being drunk in public and disorderly conduct, and sentenced him to a year in jail with all but one month suspended. Dennis, who is from nearby Hopewell, Va., was also ordered to pay a $100 fine on each of the counts, the NBC12 report said.

With 69 laps to go in September's Federated Auto Parts 400 at RIR, NASCAR was forced to throw the caution flag when a man -- who was later identified as Dennis -- was spotted having climbed the catchfence separating the Turn 4 grandstands from the cars on the track. Dennis was escorted down by local authorities, arrested and charged with being drunk in public and disorderly conduct.

According to NBC12, an officer testified that the 53-year-old shirtless fan was drunk and told authorities he climbed the fence because it was his birthday and he wanted to stop the race and be on TV. At the time, Dennis also said he was trying to get a photo of his favorite driver, Kevin Harvick.

Photos of Dennis perched atop the catchfence quickly went viral that same night, while some fans were able to capture a YouTube video of him sitting on the fence.

"I am deeply in regret of what I did. I want to apologize to everyone. It was just stupid," Dennis told WTVR-Richmond after appearing in court the Monday after the Saturday night race. "I got hung up in the moment. Cool race. I guess we never grow up."

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