Saturday, November 5, 2011

NASCAR Levies Suspension for Texas Race Against Kyle Busch

Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR

Known as a driver that embodies the must-win attitude found in all legendary racers, Kyle Busch at the age of 26 years has swiftly fell to 104 race victories in the top-three faucets of NASCAR. A focused, determined individual with the talent to justify his presence as an all-out race threat in NASCAR Sprint Cup, Nationwide and Camping World Truck races, Busch would never accept anything less than victory on the track. A driven winner, this enthusiasm of Kyle Busch has caused him to appear aggressive and downright disrespectful to other competitors. Earning reputation for combativeness in racing, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and even his brother Kurt met the consequences of crossing Kyle Busch's intense self-motivation.

For this weekend's NASCAR triple-header show at Texas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch again prepared to race in all three major NASCAR divisions starting with the Camping World Trucks Winstar World Casino 350k event Friday night. Qualifying 4th in his Kyle Busch Motorsports #18 Toyota Tundra, the driver/owner was a certified favourite for race victory at the end of the night. On lap 13, Busch battled for 2nd place with the #33 KHI (Kevin Harvick Incorporated) Chevrolet of Ron Hornaday Jr side-by-side into turn one. Passing a lapped truck, Hornaday slightly bobbled his race truck rubbing into Kyle Busch's race vehicle on the outside. Both trucks ran wide up the race track through turn two with the #33 Chevrolet Silverado brushing the wall. NASCAR threw the caution on the Texas Motor Speedway track but the #18 Toyota was instantly racing for the #33 truck of Ron Hornaday Jr. Crushing into the rear of the KHI truck, Busch intentionally turned the #33 into the turn 4 wall hard damaging his own truck in the process. Stunning spectators as well as other race teams alike, NASCAR responded promptly to the deliberate and dangerous actions of Kyle Busch. Indifferent to the penalties occurring in the NHL for dangerous head shots, NASCAR deemed the Friday night retaliation of Kyle Busch against Ron Hornaday Jr an action worthy for benching one of the stock car racing series' most popular bad boys.

Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/ Getty Images for NASCAR

Having originally parked the #18 Toyota Tundra for the rest of the Camping World Truck Series event, Kyle Busch would return to the Texas Motor Speedway to learn he would be forbidden to compete in the remaining races at the 1.5-mile oval including most significantly the NASCAR Sprint Cup event on Sunday. Seventh place in Chase points for 2011, Kyle Busch will be a NASCAR Sprint Cup spectator for the first time since 2004 having to watch his #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota round the Texas Motor Speedway in the hands of Michael McDowell.  

Ruling on Busch's reckless contact with the #33 Chevrolet, the driver's past skirmishes likely added some weight to NASCAR's rare decision to suspend a driver. In May, Kyle Busch was involved with spinning Kevin Harvick at Darlington. On the pit lane during post-race, Busch forced himself past the #29 Richard Childress Racing car almost colliding with a Richard Childress Racing crew member. A second incident initiated by Kyle Busch in 2011 took place a month later in the O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 Camping World Truck Series at Kansas Speedway. Dissatisfied with a pass by Joey Coulter in the #22 Chevrolet, Busch bumped the competitor's truck hard on the cool down lap. Ironically, the owner of the car Busch confronted was Richard Childress who physically encountered the driver afterwards in the garage area. In the Texas truck race, Busch's wrath was dealt to a truck owned by Kevin Harvick (a pilot of Richard Childress' Sprint Cup car).

A rare occurrence to see a driver parked for an event as a penalty, only two times prior has a driver been suspended from a Cup series event for an incident in another NASCAR event. In the first time following a 2002 Martinsville truck race, Kevin Harvick (under probation for a post-race incident at Bristol Motor Speedway) was unseated from his #29 Chevrolet for the Sunday Cup event. The other time NASCAR levied a race suspension involved Robby Gordon. Wrecking Marcos Ambrose in the late laps of the inaugural Montreal Nationwide event, that incident and Gordon's conduct immediately afterwards led NASCAR to park versatile driver from the July race at Pocono Raceway.

Both Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Racing expressed understanding on NASCAR's decision making neutral statements after the penalty was leveled against Kyle Busch. While Kyle Busch remained elusive for much of the day following NASCAR's penalty, the driver at-fault issued an open letter Saturday evening on his website.

To all,

I’ve had a lot of time today to sit and reflect, and try to put my thoughts into words as best I can.

I want to sincerely apologize for my actions during Friday night’s Truck Series race at Texas.

I apologize to my fans, all my sponsors, everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports.

After talking with my team, it’s great to have their support and encouragement to assure me that there are better days ahead. Even though this took place while driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, I am sorry for how difficult this has been for everyone associated with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series teams.

I’d also like to apologize to Ron Hornaday Jr., and everyone associated with the No. 33 team in the Truck Series.

I understand why I was taken out of the car for the rest of the weekend. NASCAR officials had to act, and I accept their punishment and take full responsibility for my actions.

As a racecar driver, the hardest thing to do is to sit on the sidelines listening to cars on the track when you know you should be out there competing. For this, I have no one to blame but myself.

Through a lot of support from the people around me, I feel like I’ve made a lot of strides this year, but this was certainly a step backward. Moving forward, I will do everything I possibly can to represent everyone involved in a positive manner. However, I know my long-term actions will have more of a bearing than anything I say right now.


Kyle Busch

NASCAR has not ruled out further actions on Kyle Busch but the chances of further race suspension is unlikely after Texas. While some will argue NASCAR is making an example out of Kyle Busch for his race actions, the driver would probably admit he made an example of himself to earn this hard ruling.

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