By admin | June 30, 2008
By Richard Allen
*After watching Sundayâ€™s LENOX Industrial Tools 301 my guest blogger, Jayson D. Henry, and I got into a discussion as to whether or not Juan Pablo Montoya should be punished for deliberately running into the car of Kyle Busch under caution. Since the two of us had differing opinions we decided to each write a blog expressing our views.Juan Pablo Montoya should be punished further by NASCAR for his actions late in the race in New Hampshire.
After what turned out to be the raceâ€™s final caution flag waved, the cars of Montoya and Kyle Busch wound up sideways on the front straightaway well away from the incident that had initially brought out the yellow. Replays later showed that the two seemed to have some disagreement which had started before the caution came out and the post caution bumping was simply the end point of that disagreement.
As the cars slowed Montoya pulled up beside Busch seemingly to express his displeasure. When the two were side by side Busch swerved and made slight contact with Montoya. A few feet further down the track Montoya turned hard left into Busch, sending the #18 car spinning and ultimately clipping the #42 car leaving both turned sideways.
Montoya made no bones of his intentions. When asked during a post race interview if he meant to do what he did he said, â€œYeah. I did what he did to me.â€ He went on to say, â€œI donâ€™t appreciate people who race me like that. Thereâ€™s a fine line and he crossed it.â€
Montoya was penalized two laps for rough driving.
One argument I have heard from a few internet posters in favor of not punishing Montoya further was that he told the truth about what happened. What difference does that make? Criminals are not allowed to go free because they admit to their crimes. Now be clear, I am not trying to equate something that happened on a race track to criminal behavior. That was merely an example.
Another argument many fans will no doubt make will have to do with the popularity of those involved. Just because someone spun Kyle Busch, who is not a fan favorite, is no reason to let the incident go unpunished. NASCAR is too often accused of making decisions based on driver popularity. They need to get away from that.
The main reason why Montoya should be punished further is because of what could have happened. Other teams could have been affected by his actions. Teams vying for Top 12 or Top 35 spots could have been taken out which could have severely hurt their seasons.
Granted, nothing like that did happen but it does not mean NASCAR should excuse this incident and wait for the next time before they take action. If these two drivers want to get out of their cars and duke it out afterwards, then so be it. Let them pay a fine to some charity for â€˜actions detrimental to the sportâ€™ to make up for it and then move on.
Montoya, in my view should be docked 50 points and fined at least $50,000 for his actions, because what he did could have had a negative impact on someone who had nothing to do with the initial problem. There is too much at stake for a careless action to ruin someone elseâ€™s day, or season.
With all of that being said, I do applaud Montoya for not making up some pitiful excuse like his steering locked up or his brakes went out or any of the other things we often hear from drivers in similar circumstances. And furthermore, I like to see drivers not allow themselves to be taken advantage of. It makes for a much more interesting show when they take up for themselves, I just do not agree with the method he chose.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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