“NOTE: THIS AN UPDATE OF SATURDAY MORNING’S STORY, FOUND HERE”:https://frontstretch.com/breakingnews/36267/
On Friday night, intentional retaliation by Kyle Busch destroyed another driver’s championship chances in the Camping World Truck Series.
By Saturday morning, that incident had ruined any hope of achieving his own title in Sprint Cup. NASCAR President Mike Helton has suspended Busch from the rest of the weekend’s on-track activities in Texas, effective immediately by utilizing Section 9-12 of the Rule Book – giving NASCAR officials authority to act during a race weekend during a period of exceptional circumstances. Helton believed that in this case, the blatant spinout of a driver in championship contention, at 150 miles an hour warranted the action.
“The circumstances that we saw last night on the racetrack, we didn’t take lightly what we saw,” Helton explained. “We didn’t take lightly the necessity or the responsibility for us to react to it. We take those responsibilities very seriously.”
“On occasion you have an incident to take the responsibility, to take the additional step like we’re talking about this morning, and it’s not an easy step to take. It’s not something we enjoy doing. But we do take our responsibility to maintain control of the garage areas and the unfolding of the events very seriously, which led us to this action.”
Helton left open the possibility of additional penalties, which could be announced as soon as Monday morning. In the meantime, Michael McDowell will assume driving duties of Kyle Busch’s No. 18 Toyota in the Cup Series, moving over from the start-and-park HP Racing outfit. Josh Wise will take his spot in that car, while Denny Hamlin will fill in Busch’s No. 18 JGR ride in the Nationwide Series 300-miler scheduled to go off later today.
“Sometimes in life you have to deal with some real tough things,” said Busch’s Cup team owner, Joe Gibbs. “This is a tough situation for us. Basically what we’re trying to do is go through it the right way.”
According to Gibbs, not all of Busch’s sponsors have been consulted yet, meaning they’re still in the process of carving out a long-term plan as of Saturday afternoon. McDowell, who had run Nationwide for the organization and is affiliated with Toyota, proved a natural fit on short notice while the former Super Bowl-winning coach took the heat for his suspended driver’s actions.
“It definitely rests with me,” he said when asked about assessing blame. “I think when you own something, you’re the owner, you’re responsible. So I think that question is kind of easy for me to answer. I take full responsibility for it.”
“The penalty results from contact on Lap 14 of the 147-lap Truck Series race Friday night.”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dDBd0CLjOwc Busch was fighting for second with Hornaday, going through turns 1 and 2 when both cars tried to get around a lapped truck on the inside. Hornaday, in the middle of the sandwich drifted up and made light contact with Busch; both cars then scraped the outside wall. Coming down the backstretch, NASCAR threw the caution although it appeared both trucks had minor damage; however, an angry Busch lost his cool, spun Hornaday head-on into the outside wall through Turns 3 and 4 to total both the No. 33 and Busch’s self-owned No. 18 Truck.
Busch, on Friday night defended his actions on SPEED while claiming the emotional, on-track outburst had been building for weeks.
“I’m out to win a race here as much as everybody else is,” he said. “And when he scrapes up on my inside, gets loose and takes me up to the fence I ended up losing my cool. And I’ve been wrecked four weeks in a row and finally, I just had enough of it.”
“I’m sorry it was Ron Hornaday, and he’s going after a championship.”
Hornaday, for his part reacted with frustration and even threatened to buy a start-and-park car if Busch remained entered in Sunday’s race. Other reaction from the NASCAR community was swift, severe and mostly contradictory to Busch’s opinion.
“Kyle Busch should be parked for this race, and possibly the rest of the season, for that,” claimed SPEED announced Phil Parsons just seconds after the incident. Truck owner Harvick was less “politically correct;” on his “Twitter feed”:http://www.twitter.com/KevinHarvick/ claiming, “Just watched the race replay and saw what I already knew @kylebusch is a bitch… Pressure is on @NASCAR now to handle this crap before someone gets hurt….we aren’t racing late models.”
The suspension was handed out during a 15-minute meeting in the NASCAR hauler with Helton, Joe Gibbs, son J.D., Kyle Busch and several NASCAR officials in attendance. Gibbs also had a private, detailed discussion with Busch in his motorhome before coming out to face reporters.
“I have great faith in the decisions they make,” said Gibbs, respecting NASCAR’s decision. “We love it. We love being a part of it. We love this sport. So I think our sport is where it is because of NASCAR and the way they handle things.”
This suspension marks the third time since 2002 NASCAR has used a driver’s misbehavior in another series to sit him in Sprint Cup. Kevin Harvick was parked after aggressive driving and overreaction during a Truck Series race at Martinsville in April, 2002. That lasted for just the Cup Series race later that weekend. Then, five years later Robby Gordon was suspended after ignoring a black flag during the Nationwide Series race in Montreal; restarting second instead of 13th, he spun leader Marcos Ambrose in retaliation for an earlier incident. NASCAR’s response was to sit him the following Cup race, at Pocono in early August of ’07.
For more on this story, please see Amy Henderson’s at-track commentary, filled with driver reaction later this afternoon.
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