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Busch/Childress fracas once again exposes NASCAR’s flawed leadership

By admin | June 7, 2011

By Richard Allen


Much has been written and said about the recent fracas between Richard Childress and Kyle Busch over the last few days. While the who hit who and why part of the story is intriguing and somewhat entertaining, the real story came in the aftermath of the melee.

On Monday it was announced that NASCAR had issued a steep fine of $150,000 to Childress after he was alleged to have attacked Busch in the garage area of the Kansas Speedway following a Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday. According to reports, Childress was upset that Busch had bumped one of his trucks on the cool down lap and went to seek his own form of justice. It has also been reported that Childress went so far as to remove his watch and hand it to grandson Austin Dillon before approaching Busch, a move that clearly indicates premeditation.

But do keep in mind that there had been previous incidents between Busch and Richard Childress Racing drivers leading up to this particular incident which has led a number of observers to state that Busch deserved what he got. That may well be so but the issue here is NASCAR’s actions following the fight, or bigger still, NASCAR’s actions in general when policing the sport.

Whether you happen to believe Busch got his rightful reward or not, there can be little doubt that Childress’ actions were out of line for any other setting in society. Granted, I understand that fighting has long been a part of sports, and racing in particular. For that matter, this sport owes much of its current status to a fight. However, allowing someone to remain on the speedway grounds who had just assaulted another competitor is hard to justify, especially if NASCAR’s story that Busch did nothing to provoke the punches is to be believed.

Again, I am not necessarily condemning Childress. If I were a car owner and kept having my equipment torn up by the same guy I might very well attempt to do the same thing. But, I would expect to at least be removed from the grounds after it happened.

This is not the only time NASCAR’s rulings have come in question in regard to policing the sport.

Let’s stay with the driver in question in this case. Kyle Busch is supposedly on probation for his actions in Darlington just a few short weeks ago. Since having probation levied against him the driver was clocked going 128mph on a country road outside of the Charlotte area in a Lexus sports car. Apparently endangering the lives of others is not something NASCAR feels the need to address in regard to a driver on probation.

But, they have hammered drivers Jeremy Mayfield and Shane Hmiel with suspensions for failing banned substance tests. To say that what Busch did was not covered by probation because it did not happen at the track is just as weak as if someone had claimed these two drivers only used drugs at home and not at the track.

And consider that in the discussion of NASCAR’s action against Childress it came to light that Ryan Newman may have been secretly fined by NASCAR for allegedly punching Juan Pablo Montoya in the presence of NASCAR officials in their own hauler. Why the need for secrecy? Well, to have made it public would have been an admission that the incident did indeed happen which then offers up the perception that the inmates are running the asylum.

It wouldn’t be that star power has anything to do with who gets suspended and who doesn’t would it?

And let’s take the biggest travesty of all in regard to NASCAR policing. After the 2009 All Star qualifying race, journeyman driver Carl Long was hammered with one of the most severe penalties NASCAR has ever issued. He was fined $200,000 and suspended for 12 races. What did Long do, you ask? Assault with a deadly weapon while under the influence of cocaine in the garage area? No, his engine was found to have a cubic inch displacement of .17 inch too big.

Again, is it star power that determines punishment?

Sadly, the leadership of the sport is either playing favorites when they issue penalties and think no one notices, or they themselves are completely unaware of their own misjudgments. Either way, it is not good.

The bottom line is that the leadership of this sport is flawed. Inconsistent rulings that lend themselves to cries of favoritism often prove difficult to defend in any way that doesn’t come off as laughable or mystifying. And perhaps even worse are the alleged attempts at secrecy. Once found out, these acts give off the impression that the sport is being run like a police state.

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20 Responses to “Busch/Childress fracas once again exposes NASCAR’s flawed leadership”

  1. Sue Rarick Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I’ve disagreed with some of your comments before so it’s only fair to compliment you on this one.

  2. Bill B Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 11:34 am

    Money, money, money.
    Seems pretty simple to figure out to me. If you have a big name sponsor and bring lots of money into the sport, suspension and other harsh penalties aren’t in the equation. NASCAR doesn’t want to bite the hand that feeds. This is only a problem because NASCAR refuses to have an independant officiating entity and it’s clear why, because then they wouldn’t be able to let money influence their decisions.

  3. The Mad Man Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 11:44 am

    Star power and sponsorship money determines the extent of the fine and disciplinary actions that NASCAR takes. Tony Furr was indefinitely suspended for cheating and yet how many times has Chad Knaus been caught cheating and what’s the worst he’s gotten? A fine and being suspended for a few races.

    Toyoda was awfully quiet about the 128 mph speeding ticket and yet want Childress sent to the gallows for what he did. The Gibbs have been awfully quiet about all of Scrub’s misdeeds both off and on the track as have the #18 car’s sponsors. I seem to recall Home Depot making Tony Stewart attend anger management classes over one of his at-track faux pas. I also recall NASCAR parking Harvick over an on-track incident. So yes Rich, you’re right. NASCAR’s leadership is flawed as is their inconsistency when enforcing their own rules.

  4. Jerome Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    You consistently write one of the best columns on the web.This is one of your best. You are 100% correct.

  5. abe browne Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    I have often disagreed with your previous columns but this one I agree with. Maybe it is time for Nascar to replace its leadership. Good job, Rich. I read your columns regularly. I wonder how many employees, drivers or representatives would still be working for First Interstate Batteries, Fed Ex, Mars and their 5 Principles (Responsibility), or Home Depot if they failed to comply or did the things Kyle Busch has done. Star power dictates all of Nascar’s action.

  6. Russ Edwards Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Good article, and its this very inconsistency, that has put Nascar into the situation that it is in today.
    Everyone knows that no owner or driver is going to receive any meanful punishment. The only case that is in memory is, as you mentioned, Carl Long. The question there is why did they choose to single him out? Apparently either Nascar itself, or someone who had their ear wanted him gone.

    BTW: the excuse of tearing up Childresses equipment justified his actions is totally off base. The owners of the megateams havent been using their own money since the dawn of the modern era. Sponsors pay the bills (indirectly of course), not the owners. SO it wasnt hurting Childress directly.

  7. jerseygirl Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Good column, Rich. Since NASCAR’s ownership is all family, they won’t fire themselves for the bad job they have made of things since Bill France Jr turned over the company to Brainless.

    BZF went to the Indy 500 as a guest, rather than attend the 600 in Charlotte. Shows you where his interest are and why he is so clueless with regard to the current state of affairs in the business that he supposedly runs.

  8. Earner Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    Carl Long had a (perceived) intent to cheat (defraud) that has to be dealt with severely to discourage that practice. I Agree with most the article (& who you are & the $ seems to count) also Nascar I’m sure went after Richard so shrubby wouldn’t get the police involved. P.S shrubby owned the truck & was in fact an owner..shrubby was on probation for after race actions…If ya tell some one if they do this I’m gonna do this & they do….Way to go Richard (I’ll bet if you check 15 people in the garage would be happy to give 10k ea) …I’d way rather see that than a car sailing @180 mph

  9. Steve Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 3:01 pm

    Great article and comments. Everything Nascar does is about money and they have been ruling and officiating races as such for years. And they wonder why long time fans are suddenly turned off to the sport.

  10. Danny Tallahassee Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 3:31 pm

    Good article, but you need to go farther back in the season to put it into perspective. Star power and selective enforcement of the unpublished rules are so evident in this case. It’s amazing how quickly fans and media bash Robby Gordon if he is within 50 yards of a wreck, even 50 yards ahead of the wreck (like at Daytona practice ), but have forgotten Robby is on probation for the remainder of the year, for an altercation in the garage with a driver from another series. This was about 2 or 3 weeks into this season. But hey, it’s Robby so who cares. He gets penalized for being Robby Gordon. Newman and JPM have on track antics one week and fights in the NAPAscar hauler the next, and no probation or suspention. Harvick at Darlington forces Busch into a situation that Kyle tried 3 times to avoid after the race. Cars were wrecked, a punch was thrown on national tv, and no probation or suspention. Why is this comment the first time any of you out there have seen any comparison of Robby Gordon being on probation to any of the last 4 weeks on and off track actions in this article ? Star power and selective enforcement of the rules by NAPAscar. Who is the one on probation, Robby Gordon the owner or Robby Gordon the driver? Before you bash me for mentioning Robby Gordon , try to pretend it was a driver you like instead of Robby, then write how you feel.

  11. Glen H Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    I have to agree with you on this Rich. NA$CAR bases its decissions on how much money it’ll cost them rather than being fair to all.

    It’s time for NA$CAR to bring in independent officials like the other sports. If NA$CAR keeps officiating themselves, people will start comparing them to the WWE… Oops! I forgot that people already do.

  12. Justin Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 4:25 pm

    Danny Tallahassee, what the heck are you talking about??? Harvick is on probation for the Darlington incident. If you are going to complain, atleast get the facts correct, otherwise you cant be taken seriously. If you are 100% wrong about Harvick at Darlington, how can I trust that you are correct about Robby Gordon? I am not familiar with the Gordon incident, so I cant comment on it

    Side note, the reason Busch tried to avoid the situation after the Darlington race is because he is a tough guy on the radio, and a tough guy behind the wheel, but a total punk when standing toe to toe…

  13. Danny Tallahassee Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 5:44 pm

    Justin , you are 100% correct on my error on Harvick, so thanks for proving my point for me. If you are going to complain at least use some logic. Harvick was 1/2 the equation so it’s really 50 %, ergo I can only trust 1/2 of what you say? As far as your side note, your bias is showing. If you go back through archives on Jayski you can get familiar with the Gordon incident, but you would have already done that if it mattered to you. The fact that you are not familiar with the incident pretty much tells the story, as it is pertinent to the original article. If you did look it up you wouldn’t have to trust me or not trust me.
    Side note, it is can’t not cant. at least , not atleast. At least you got the “Busch tried to avoid the situation” correct in that sentence. I am sure you will find the other mistake I purposely left in this response.

  14. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    June 8th, 2011 at 9:29 pm

    As a Motorsports Fan, I feel that I want to see Kyle Busch Suspended as the moral in the story is Big Brian is a total mutt.

  15. Cotton Says:
    June 9th, 2011 at 1:51 am

    Rich, your article is right on, at least as far as it goes. It has always been evident that money, big sponsors, and star power determine “the facts” as NASCAR sees them. But, for real racing fans, that’s only half the story.

    As a Motorsports fan, I want to see racing, not wrecks and not fights. I’m sick of fights and off-track incidents overshadowing racing. I’m sick of fans who apparently love to see wrecks. I’m sick of “boys have at it”. Apparently, NASCAR believes, perhaps with some justification, that it’s racing is not good enough to capture the fans’ interest and therefore encourages wrecks, fights, and assaults. I’m sick of Kyle Busch acting like he’s God in the truck series where he shouldn’t even be racing. And I’m sick of Richard Childress, who’s drivers have torn up more race cars than anyone on the track, acting like he’s being bankrupted over a wheel rub that didn’t do a tenth the amount of damage that a Kevin Harvick burn-out does.

    Yes, Rich, NASCAR needs to show some leadership and the first thing they need to do is admit that “boys have at it” is nothing more than an excuse to substitute mayhem fo racing.


  16. Bill B Says:
    June 9th, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    You mean you want it to be a sport and not a reality television show.
    I’m with you but the problem with that is that NASCAR wants to attract more viewers and most of them aren’t interested in sports, they want entertainment. Especially if it involves people acting badly to one another.
    You see, you haven’t realized what I’ve realized for a long time - my agenda (to see a competitive motorsport event every week) isn’t what NASCAR wants (more viewers at any cost). There’s the disconnect.

  17. Steve Says:
    June 9th, 2011 at 12:57 pm

    Bill, I’m afraid the only way you are going to see racing actually being the “show” is to go to your local track and support them with your hard earned dollars. I haven’t been to a Cup weekend in a few years now and spend those dollars at my local track. Much better racing and I don’t have to walk a mile to get to the track or spend my life savings to stay the weekend.

    Unless you have been living under a rock, Nascar spends all their time trying to please the casuals, so this form of ahem “auto racing” will probably be around until Nascar figures out that the core of their fan base are those that want to see good racing. Period. Not the weekly sideshow that this sport has become in recent years.

  18. Justin Says:
    June 9th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    I can appreciate your sense of humor Tallahassee, but I “can’t” understand your point about 50%. (Both Harvick and Busch were put on probation, if that is what you mean?)

    Since you are such a stickler for grammar, you might want to go proof read your first post, I might have to go google “suspention” to figure out what it is. And you should write “two” instead of 2, you should write “three” instead of 3. Questions are followed by a question mark, not a period. “NAPAscar” is spelled NASCAR. I assume that is some kind of joke that only the Robby Gordon fan (not fans, fan) understands.

    Though I was originally on your side with NASCAR’s application of the rules, or lack there of under most situations, now I think you are just a jackass. Critiquing grammar on a NASCAR article because I didnt use an apostrophe (which is common), and I missed the spacebar once. tHis senteSE shOUld rEElly git you RilEd up, Dont yuo ThInk!

  19. Cotton Says:
    June 9th, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Bill and Steve, yes, you are both right. Unfortunately, there isn’t much local short track racing where I live. I wish there were. I also wish that ESPN would bring back their coverage of USAC sprints and midgets. I would dump NASCAR altogether if they did.

    For the last couple of years I have spent my limited racing budget making the 950 mile trip to Springfield, Il. to watch the AMA dirt trackers run on the mile track. What an absolutely amazing show. By far the best racing I’ve ever seen. NASCAR isn’t even in the same league with those boys.

  20. Steve S Says:
    June 9th, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    Right on Rich.