Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Time for NASCAR to do something about it's "problem child"

I've been a NASCAR fan for over 30 years. I've seen drivers yell at each other and cuss each other. I've watched them push and shove each other both on and off the track and watched them get in fights on occasion. Sometimes such goings on are the best part of the race. Most of the time you can chalk it up to simply "boys being boys." However, at the conclusion of this past Saturday night's NASCAR Southern 500 race from Darlington, SC, Kyle "Whiny" Busch did something I've never seen before and put people's lives in jeopardy in the process.

kevin harvick @ zanesville, ohio 11-14-06Image by Paula Fisher via WikipediaOn lap 365 of the 367 lap race (watch video here), Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer got together with Bowyer losing control and his car crashing into the inside retaining wall. Busch was upset with Harvick (pictured top right) due to some bumping the two of them had been involved with prior to this incident. So, he turned dead left into Harvick, spun him out of control, and wrecked several other cars in the process. Harvick then proceeded to express his displeasure with Busch by stopping his car in front of Busch's on pit road. Harvick walks back to Busch's car and attempts to punch him which is kinda fruitless considering Busch has a helmet on. It the meantime, several of Harvick's crew members and a NASCAR official are walking down pit road to "the incident" when Busch pushes Harvick's car out of the way with his car. Harvick's car careens dangerously out of control into the pit road wall. Fortunately, none of the people walking down pit road were hit by Harvick's unmanned car, but they could have been.

Talladega, AL 4-08 arriving for nascar raceImage by Pam J. via WikipediaI'll admit I am no fan of Kyle "Whiny" Busch (pictured lower right). I've written other articles (click hereclick here, and click here to read them) critical of him. I've wondered how Dale Earnhardt would have dealt with him. Would he have "rattled his cage" as he did Terry Labonte ? I think the answer is a resounding "yes."

I guess the person that has most surprised me in regards to Busch's continued bad behavior has been his car owner, Joe Gibbs. At one time, I was a Washington Redskins fan, and Gibbs was their head coach during the time they won three Super Bowls. Gibbs always ran a tight ship and would not have tolerated Busch-like behavior out of one of his players. So far, he has never done anything in regards to disciplining Kyle Busch. I can't help but wonder if all the money Toyota and others have poured into Gibbs Racing has caused him to turn a blind eye.

Yesterday, NASCAR fined both Busch and Harvick $25,000 and placed them both on probation until June due to the incident. Harvick probably could have handled the situation with Busch differently Saturday. For instance, he could have waited and "had a chat with him" in the garage area after both of them were out of their cars like they used to in "the ol' days." Or, he could have waited and put Busch's car into the wall next week at Dover. In my opinion, the whole incident could be chalked up to "boys being boys" until Busch chose to use his car as a weapon. Then, he crossed the line and it was inexcusable. He put people in harms way which could have led to someone being severely injured or even killed. It's time NASCAR or Gibbs Racing put the hammer down on Busch. He needs to be suspended for several races or maybe even for the rest of the year. Such action would lead to Busch's sponsors getting involved because they pay him millions of dollars each year to drive that car and would not be happy if he wasn't doing so. They might even strip their sponsorship from him. NASCAR's fine and probation was just a slap on the wrist. It was like giving a speeding ticket to someone who's been busted for drunk driving for the tenth time. It has no teeth.

What is it gonna take for NASCAR to say enough is enough in regards to Busch's antics. Is it gonna take him seriously injuring himself, another driver, a crew member, or a fan ? I hope not. NASCAR needs to do something and do it now before it's too late.
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