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Reutimann vs. Busch incident shows the dangers, oddities of NASCAR playoff

By admin | October 3, 2010



By Richard Allen


NASCAR’s form of a playoff is one of the oddest in all of sports. Over the course of the final ten races there are twelve drivers who race for the right to be crowned Sprint Cup champion. However, unlike sports such as baseball, football and basketball, all competitors continue to run in each of those final ten events whether they are eligible for the title or not. In those other sports, the teams to make the playoffs continue on while the others have their seasons end when the playoffs begin.

One of the dangers with the NASCAR system is the ever present possibility of a title contender getting involved in a situation with a driver not a part of the championship hunt. That is exactly what happened in the Price Chopper 400 at the Kansas Speedway on Sunday.

Early in the race, Chase for the Championship contender Kyle Busch tapped the back of non-Chaser David Reutimann. The result was that Reutimann’s Toyota went for a wild ride and made contact with the outside wall, causing significant damage.

Later on, Reutimann, who was laps down by that time, exacted his revenge by driving into the left rear of Busch’s Toyota. Reutimann was actually the one who went for yet another spin as a result of that contact but Busch’s car suffered enough damage that any hopes of a race victory were dashed.

Ultimately, Busch finished 21st in the race. That finish dropped him four spots to seventh in the Sprint Cup standings. He is 80 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.

Immediately after the second incident Busch had some pointed words over his in-car radio for those in authority who might be listening. “I have a serious problem with what just happened there and no one in the tower is going to do a _____ thing about it,” the frustrated driver said. “And if they don’t we’re going to have a meeting afterwards.”

For his part, Reutimann had some strong words for Busch and any of the other eleven Chase contenders who might happen to cross paths with him over the course of the season’s final seven races. “Drivers in the Chase need to think about who they wreck,” he said in a post race interview.

Television cameras showed Busch storming from his car in the garage area after the race and marching toward Reutimann’s garage space. However, nothing came of it as the title contender was headed off at the pass and sent back to his hauler.

“The guy got loose and came up off the bottom and I got into him unintentionally,” Busch conceded. “It was my fault, 100% my fault, but unintentional.”

As long as NASCAR insists on sticking with the Chase for the Championship format(and sadly enough they are going to stick with it) then this type of thing will always be a possibility. Stuff like what happened on Sunday in Kansas just goes to show how silly it is to name someone as champion for an entire season just because they scored the most points over the course of the final ten races.

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Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly columns appear in The Mountain Press and The Knoxville Journal.

Topics: Articles |

10 Responses to “Reutimann vs. Busch incident shows the dangers, oddities of NASCAR playoff”

  1. zhills fan Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 6:18 am

    I love it, I love it, Beak’s revenge is very justified!!

  2. mikeyfan5599 Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 6:31 am

    As a fan of both drivers, I will say I have no problem with what David did. He got ran over last week by Ryan Newman and did nothing, He has been run over 4 or 5 other times this year and did nothing, It was about time he made a statement to the rest of the garage, I’m tired of being taken advantage of and Payback is hell.

    As for Kyle saying he should retaliate Next year? No way, as David stated you have to take care of business now or lose face later.

    One note for Kyle, He showed that he is one of the best drivers out there, I don’t know anyone else who would have been able to keep that car on the lead lap, until what 8 to go?, or on the track for that matter other than Kyle. He drove his butt off and did a good job of getting the finish he did.

  3. Gordon82Wins Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Non-playoff drivers participating in playoff races is what makes the Chase such a contrived, idiotic, pointless format to determine a champion. It might not be so bad if a driver didn’t have to pass Sam Hornish to battle Denny Hamlin.

    I really don’t care about the incident, I like Kyle but am not surprised at what Reut did. But it demonstrates the flaws of the Chase again, as if it needed demonstrating.

  4. Justin Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 8:20 am

    I am truly shocked that Busch went so far as to accept responsibility for the incident. However, I dont think he took responsibility because it was his fault, I think he is taking responsibility, and being apologetic to make it seem as if it was even more uncalled for for Reutti to take him out. If this was a race in the middle of the season, it wouldnt have been Busch’s fault…..

    Busch isnt dumb, he knows he gives it way more than he takes it, he is simply trying to deflect from “Busch got what he deserved” and make it into “I cant believe a non chaser would ruin the race of a chaser…”

    Did Kyle stop and think that maybe he shouldnt wreck Keselowski at Bristol in the NNS race? Think about it, Kes is racing for a title, and Busch isnt……sounds a lot like “Busch is racing for a title, and Reutti isnt”… Hmmmm, sounds like a typical Kyle Busch reaction to me.

    Personally, I think the rest of the garage, minus his JGR team mates should take it upon themselves and ensure he never wins a title. You can guarantee he is going to wreck people every year. So each of those wreck “victims” should simply wait for the Chase to exact their revenge, and after the first 3 Chase races, Busch will find himself in Clint Bowyer land, with no hope of a title. Maybe then he will consider the repercussions of wrecking every slow car he approaches in the 80 races prior to the chase (counting all 3 series). Take this year for example. Reutti got him yesterday, next week Kes can get him, the week after Todd Bodine can enter the Cup event and get a little revenge, “accidentally” of course, and Busch is done…….can you see the look on his face week after week, when one of the slow cars, moves low to let Busch pass, and then, oops, got loose and chased it up the track, feel really bad about ruining the day of the 18……

    I realize that would never happen, because most of the drivers are above that kind of childish behavior (not including Kryle).

    Of course, it is funny that Busch cited the first 26 races next year, because he is so entitled that he just figures he will be in the Chase every year. And if Reutti got him back in the 4th race, and Busch missed the Chase by 20 points, he would be bitching about the fact that Reutti cost him a chance to win the Cup… is a no win when it comes to meat head Busch

  5. Bill B Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 8:35 am

    “just goes to show how silly it is to name some as champion for an entire season just because they scored the most points over the course of the final ten races”


  6. mikeyfan5599 Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Rick, I also want to point out that ESPN is pushing NASCAR to have an elimination format for the chase starting next season, at least that is what is being reported. Can you imagine the Bounty that Ford, Dodge and Toyota will put on JJ to take him out of the race early thereby eliminating him? Teammates that don’t make the chase protecting teammates chances for a championship by (un)intentionally taking out the individual in front of their teammate insuring they are still in the championship the next race.

    I say leave the chase alone If anything to bring the field closer together at the start of the chase and to reward the regular season champion, give the regular season champ 10 bonus points the everyone else 7 points for a top 5 (top 5 less wins) and 4 for a top 10 (top 10 - top 5’s). Then say have at it boys.

  7. jerseygirl Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 2:07 pm

    The chase is so darn contrived and not a real playoff at all. Plus you have KyBu who while very talented has NO consideration for anyone out on the track except himself. He runs over other drivers all the time in any series he drives in so he finally just did it to someone who wasn’t going to put up with it. He had been smart mouth to Reut in a post-race interview and well, I’m not feeling bad for Busch.

    Some days you reap what you sow.

  8. Gene Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 2:57 pm

    I haven’t noticed Kyle ‘running over’ too many Cup competitors. Maybe the prior commenters here could give me a few examples. A few means more than two.

    Just because a driver whines (J Burton) that Kyle ran him over, when video shows he did not, doesn’t count.

  9. lori Anderson Says:
    October 4th, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    When you have a manufactured championship where only 12 drivers are actually running for it, you will get these kinds of situations. Everyone is racing for the sponsors and the best finish. I don’t feel sorry for Kyle as he has spun others.He isn’t the first nor will he be the last to get spun. Giving points to 11 drivers so they can catch up with the driver who has done good all year is clearly stupid. You are also punishing the 1st place driver.It has driven fans away from this sport. If I was a driver, I would feel funny about being the champion and knowing I couldn’t have won it without being given points.

  10. Aaron Says:
    October 6th, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Kyle is a good driver, but he is also an selfcenterd IDIOT!
    if things do’t go his way, he blames everybody else. Ruddie did the right thing at the right time at the right place. ( no other cars around them) Riddie should get just as much respect as a non chaser as they do a chaser. Everybody wants to race for the win except for the start and parkers, which they have to park to accumilate enough to stay in business. It does not matter if it’s Kyle vs. Ruddie or Kyle vs. Brad or Crazy Carl vs, Brad. It just shows the character of each on their mental attitude about their competitors.