By admin | November 6, 2011
By Richard Allen
It is said that there are two sides to every story. In the spirit of that statement I am writing two separate columns to address the parking of Kyle Busch by NASCAR following his actions during Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race at the Texas Motor Speedway. In one of those columns I will attempt to explain the positives of the sanctioning body’s police action against the driver and in the other I will attempt to explain that the wrong decision was made.
On lap 15 of the WinStar World Casino 350 driver Ron Hornaday got inside of Busch and essentially muscled his way around as the two raced through turns one and two of the 1.5 mile track. The pass by the Kevin Harvick, Inc. driver forced Busch’s Toyota to go high up the banking and brush the wall.
Clearly, Busch was angered by the move and pursued Hornaday down the back stretch as the yellow flag waved. When Hornaday slowed in observance of the caution, Busch latched his truck onto Hornaday’s rear bumper and began pushing him wildly through turns three and four until he finally hooked the right rear of the #33 and turned it head on into the outside wall.
Busch was then ordered by NASCAR to take his machine behind the pit wall and park it for the rest of the night. The next morning, the sport’s governing body announced that the often controversial driver would not be allowed to participate in either the Nationwide Series race scheduled for Saturday nor the Sprint Cup event set for Sunday afternoon on that same track.
Here’s why that decision was the wrong thing to do.
Most obviously, NASCAR told drivers a couple years ago to “Have at it”. As anyone who works in a position of authority or who raises children knows, consistency is the key to effective discipline. It is confusing to tell employees or children one thing and then act contrary to that mandate.
As a father of three small children, I can’t give permission for my kids to run wildly through the house then be upset when a lamp gets broken. I am getting the result I encouraged.
That’s what has happened here. And yes, I do realize I am expecting consistency from the most consistently inconsistent organization in sports.
In Busch’s mind, he was just “Having at it” as he was told to do by those who make the rules.
Certainly, some will argue that a line was crossed in this instance. There are boundaries for any edict and in this case Busch went too far. But, have those boundaries ever been defined? “We’ll know it when we see it” is not exactly the definition of ‘etched in stone’.
I’m no lawyer but if this were a court case instead of a sporting judgment call, the decision to park Busch would be very difficult to defend in light of the policy NASCAR has lived by for the better part of two seasons.
And to add to that confusion, consider that a somewhat similar incident in July of 2010 did not result in similar punishment.
During a Nationwide Series event at the now defunct Gateway International Raceway located just outside of St. Louis, Carl Edwards hooked Brad Keselowski in the right rear and turned him head on into the wall as the two raced for the checkered flag. Edwards was not parked for any race, much less any races contested in a series outside that in which the incident occurred. He was only assessed a minor fine and had points taken away in the Nationwide Series.
By parking Kyle Busch, NASCAR sends a mixed message. ‘Have at it, but we’ll bench you if you do so in a way that we don’t like. And by the way, we reserve the right to not tell you where the boundaries are and to contradict previous rulings.’
In the end, this was a tough call for NASCAR to make. Either way they would have been criticized by fans, media and other competitors. And consider that there is much more to it than the discipline of a single driver. Sponsors, crew members, car owners and fans are all impacted when one of the sport’s stars in benched. However, the call could have been made much more easily, or might not have had to be made at all, had clear guidelines for driver behavior been detailed and those guidelines been enforced regularly and consistently.
Please consier this opposing view http://racingwithrich.com/?p=1563
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