So, after the frayed tempers settled, the smoke cleared and we all woke up after the Las Vegas race we were left wondering what would happen next. After executing a sucker punch into Joey Logano’s face on pit road, would Kyle Busch be receiving any kind of penalty for his action? On the other side of the coin, shouldn’t Logano be equally fined or placed on probation for being a whiny brat-boy driver? No, we were not talking about the uninteresting repeated impacts between the two of them on the track–that was merely incidental racing. You’d figure that after a bench-clearing type brawl with a massive pile of crew members flailing away on the ground that somebody was going to be going down for the most interesting 10 seconds of the race at Sin City.
We’d all be wrong.
It’s difficult to remember that since NASCAR declared that they would “let the boys have at it” in 2008, the sanctioning body has actually backed up that rule with a surprising amount of restraint when it comes to handing down penalties for flashes of anger and violence outside of the cockpit.
On Monday both Brian France and Steve O’Donnell made statements to the effect that unless new information or footage came to light, they saw nothing that would warrant any kind of penalties regarding the Logano/Busch post-race altercation.
My jaw dropped. I mean wasn’t Matt Kenseth suspended for wrecking Logano (there’s a familiar face…) at Martinsville in 2015? And then we recalled that Kenseth dumped the No. 22 after repeated on-track incidents between the two that eliminated Kenseth’s No. 20 from the Chase. That was retaliation, not a flash of seeing red after being squeezed out the lane and losing control of his machine. Okay…different circumstances.
Well, what about in 2012 when Gordon dumped Bowyer at Phoenix and the No. 15 team attempted to jump Jeff Gordon and his No. 24 crew afterwards? If you will recall, the only people penalized in that fracas were the crew chiefs as they lost control of their crews. The drivers were left to “have at it.”
As long as NASCAR doesn’t see anybody hunting another competitor down, the status quo is to let the emotions flare, let the fists fly, and show America a little taste of the passion that they really connect with when talking racing.
That’s what we got on Sunday. Joey and Kyle were driving aggressively to achieve the best finish possible. Joey saw Brad Keselowski dropping like a rock through the field and used the No. 2 as a pick to pass Busch on the inside. Kyle refused to let that happen and shoved his No. 18 where there wasn’t any room and hit the No. 22. Logano decided he wasn’t going give an inch either and the two of them ended up making contact one more time, which resulted in Busch wrecking out and losing his top 10 finish. And his temper.
Busch brought his car down pit road, parked and then immediately went looking for one more impact with Logano. It was a single continuous incident and over as soon as the NASCAR official the size of Kong hauled a flailing Busch out from beneath a pile of Penske crew members.
In another decade, the head office would have sat Busch down for a few races and sent him off for anger management. Now NASCAR is leaving the anger issues to Logano and Busch’s employers to deal with while they enjoy making the highlight reels in the distant Northeast where if it doesn’t have a ball, it ain’t a sport.
Sex sells. Bring in the Monster Girls.
Violence sells. Cue the angry Kyle we haven’t seen for a couple years.
Down in Daytona, I’d say instead of fearing politically correct backlash, France and Co. are looking forward to the extra publicity garnered when you’re trending on social media.
Kyle Busch’s eye…I just couldn’t resist. But in case you missed it, Jeff Gluck was next to Busch’s car when he parked it after the race and got some awesome footage leading up to the brawl, which clearly shows intent. Fantastic journalistic instincts right here.
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