Greg Engle, NASCAR Examiner
Let the Fists Fly Boys, Let ‘em Fly
NASCAR wanted the boys to have it. But after Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Kansas they may have got more than they bargained for.
About 30 minutes removed from the Truck race, Richard Childress confronted Kyle Busch in the garage area. Busch had raced Richard Childress Racing driver Joey Coulter in the final laps of the event and lost fifth place to the young rookie on the final lap. Although the pass appeared to be a clean one, Busch showed his displeasure with Coulter by bumping into his truck on the cool down lap. Had it been left to that, the incident would have probably been forgotten; just Busch being Busch, aggravated at a sixth place finish, his worst of the year, after winning four of the eight races in the Truck Series this season.
Childress decided that the incident shouldn’t be forgotten and marched up to Busch in the garage and after taking his watch off and handing it to his grandson, Austin Dillon who also competed in the race, confronted Busch and soon the 65 year old legendary team owner had the young racing phenom and fellow team owner in a head lock and was punching him.
The scruff was soon broken up, but not after Busch found himself on the pavement.
Once the news got out, the throngs of cheers from the NASCAR Nation could be heard across the planet. After all this was bad versus good; one of the most disliked drivers in NASCAR being beaten up by one of the legends of NASCAR, the man who once called none other than Dale Earnhardt Sr. his friend and employee.
This wasn’t the first time Richard Childress racing has faced off with Busch. Last year at Charlotte, RCR driver Jeff Burton got into a heated argument with Busch on pit road after the race and just last month at Darlington Kevin Harvick and Busch got into an on-track tangle the finished up with Harvick’s Chevy being pushed into the inside pit wall. Busch and Harvick were placed on probation for that incident and fined a token amount of spare change.
Sunday morning at Kansas NASCAR president Mike Helton said that Busch was not at fault for the latest incident and that Childress had been restricted in his movements at the track in place of being ejected.
“We [NASCAR] concluded that the drive of the 18 truck, Kyle Busch, did nothing to provoke or cause the actions that in our opinion would have violated probation,” Helton said. “He did nothing that would have warranted the actions of Richard Childress, so we’ll have to – once we get today’s race concluded, which is the focus of today – we’ll have to decide what NASCAR’s reaction is as a member of NASCAR in an action against another NASCAR member.”
NASCAR also said in a written statement that Childress’s actions were “not appropriate and fell far short of the standard we expect of owners in this sport.”
Busch acknowledged Sunday morning that the incident did take place.
“As I was leaving my hauler walking to the garage area an incident did take place,” he said, “I wasn’t the aggressor or the instigator here, I was trying to head to my own hauler and deal with my own business,” he said. “I think the best thing to do is just put it behind you as best you can. When you get down to business that’s what matters most.”
Busch’s Sprint Cup Series team owner Joe Gibbs said he agrees with the way NASCAR was handling the aftermath.
“Mike discussed in his press conference everything that happened,” Gibbs said. “I think he did a good job of discussing it and we agree with everything he said. NASCAR is handling this the correct way and we’re going to let them take charge — which they have. We appreciate that. We agree with the statement and I think he covered everything.”
So what happens now? Helton promised that more actions against Childress will be handed out as early as Monday. But given the fact that both Childress and Busch will someday be in the NASCAR Hall of Fame and given the fact of a more open stance when it comes to aggressiveness, NASCAR will need to tread carefully.
All the evidence so far points to Childress as the one who start the fist flying and certainly NASCAR has to walk a fine line. While they can’t simply allow fist fights in the garage to happen unabated while everyone stands around in a circle throwing bets down nor can they bring down the hammer so hard that everyone will walk around the garage area wearing angel’s wings while smiling and nodding to each other.
The line has to be drawn though .Whatever the NASCAR Nation thinks of the evil Kyle Busch, team owners can’t be allowed to start throwing punches every week. The ball is now in NASCAR’s court and what they decide may indicate just how far they are willing to let it go.
One thing is for certain, whatever punishments NASCAR hands down will be the end of it. Busch said Sunday morning that he won’t pursue any type of civil charges against Childress.
“I’m going to leave it up to NASCAR and let them decide what they feel is best,” Busch said.