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NASCAR suspends Kyle Busch from Sunday's Texas 500

  Michael McDowell (R) gets the sudden call to sub for suspended Kyle Busch. Crew chief Dave Rogers (L) has his work cut out. McDowell, relative newcomer to the Cup division, is averaging 39th place finishes on the Sprint Cup tour this season, and only twice has he finished a race. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   FORT WORTH, Texas
   'Boys, have at it,' that NASCAR mantra, does have limits, as Kyle Busch just discovered.
   Eventually Busch may figure out something about how to race for the Sprint Cup championship…but that won't come till next season at the earliest.

   Busch shot himself in the foot with Friday night's run-in with Ron Hornaday, getting hit hard with a full weekend suspension by NASCAR for running Hornaday into the wall early in the Texas Motor Speedway Truck race.
   Busch, whose Cup title hopes all but went down in flames in last weekend's Martinsville 500, came into this weekend, Round Eight of the 10-race playoffs, down 57 points to tour leader Carl Edwards. So this suspension, which put Michael McDowell at the wheel of the Joe Gibbs-Dave Rogers Toyota for Sunday's Texas 500 (3 p.m. ET), won't matter that much in the grand scheme of things.
   However, Busch's temper tantrum Friday night will only add fuel to the fire – does Busch really understand how to run for a Sprint Cup title?
   Busch is one of the sport's top Truck racers of course, a sideline to his full-time Cup job with Gibbs. But it was Hornaday running for the Truck title this season, with only Homestead now left on that tour's calendar, and the crash took Hornaday out of title contention.
   Hornaday, a four-time Truck winner this season, came into the race just 15 points behind tour leader Austin Dillon.

    NASCAR president Mike Helton (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   The Friday night incident occurred as Hornaday and Busch were battling for second, in a three-wide situation, Hornaday in the middle, Busch on the outside. Hornaday got a bit loose and tagged Busch, who apparently became upset. Busch dogged Hornaday and pushed him into the wall.
   NASCAR president Mike Helton met with Busch Saturday morning before making the announcement: "On occasion you have an incident that requires you to take the additional step. It's not an easy step to take; it's not something we enjoy doing. It's not an action that we would want to do.
    "But we do take our responsibility to maintain control of the garage areas and the unfolding of the events very seriously…which led us to this action."
    Suspending a star Cup driver is not unprecedented but it is highly unusual. NASCAR suspended Robby Gordon for an altercation, and suspended Kevin Harvick early in his career.
    NASCAR's move against Busch contrasts sharply with the no-call NASCAR made in similar incidents involving Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, early in the 'Boys, have at it.'
    However this move comes in a championship situation in which an 'outsider' (Busch is not running for Truck points) directly affected the championship.
    And it could be something of a warning to anyone considering getting too carried away in the Sprint Cup or Nationwide championship battles, which have three races to go. The Martinsville Cup race a week ago was a slugfest, with numerous temper tantrums, one that may have cost Matt Kenseth a shot at the Cup title. And the Talladega Cup race two weeks ago was marred by several incidents of apparent 'Team Orders.'

   Hornaday's Truck owner is Kevin Harvick, who has had a running feud with Busch this season and who had a run-in with Busch at Darlington in May.
   And Richard Childress, who grandson Dillon is now atop the Truck series standings, had a run-in with Busch himself over the summer.
   Hornaday is considered one of the hardest drivers in the sport, and one of the tour's big winners. And he was quite upset with Busch wrecking him under yellow Friday night, threatening to "kick his ass."
   Helton: "We didn't take lightly what we saw. We didn't take lightly the necessity, or responsibility, for us to react to it."
   And Helton said the 'Boys, have at it' rule, where drivers would be allowed to settle their differences on the track, "had a very clear understanding there could be a line that got crossed."
   What that line might be has kept drivers asking questions. However Helton said Busch's move Friday was clearcut: "'We'll know it when we see it' – (and) we saw it last night."
   Putting the little-tested McDowell in such a high-powered ride could be an issue in itself, though Gibbs apparently had few options when NASCAR made its call suspending Busch.
   Joe Gibbs, after talking with Busch, said "Sometimes in life you have to deal with some real tough things. 
    "This is a tough situation for us, and we are trying to go through it the right way. 
    "Everybody with our team is trying to meet with everybody that was affected by this…obviously we have a lot of work to do and a lot of people to see."
    Controversy and such difficult situations aren't new for Gibbs. The Tony Stewart years kept him busy too. And Kyle Busch has also had a share of run-ins with rivals.  Through much of it Gibbs himself has been criticized for not keeping reins on his people.
   Gibbs concedes dealing with this situation "definitely rests with me. 
    "When you're the owner, you're responsible.
    "I take full responsibility.
   "The severity of the penalty? I always trust NASCAR; I think they do a great job. I have great faith in the decisions they make.
    "We love being a part of it, and we love this sport.
    "You don't like it…but we're certainly going to try to work our way through this one."
    Busch himself issued a statement:
   "To all,
   "I've had a lot of time today to sit and reflect, and try to put my thoughts into words as best I can.
   "I want to sincerely apologize for my actions during Friday night's Truck Series race at Texas.
   "I apologize to my fans, all my sponsors, everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports.
    "After talking with my team, it's great to have their support and encouragement to assure me that there are better days ahead. Even though this took place while driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports, I am sorry for how difficult this has been for everyone associated with Joe Gibbs Racing's Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series teams.
   "I'd also like to apologize to Ron Hornaday Jr., and everyone associated with the No. 33 team in the Truck Series.
   "I understand why I was taken out of the car for the rest of the weekend. NASCAR officials had to act, and I accept their punishment and take full responsibility for my actions.
   "As a racecar driver, the hardest thing to do is to sit on the sidelines listening to cars on the track when you know you should be out there competing. For this, I have no one to blame but myself.
   "Through a lot of support from the people around me, I feel like I've made a lot of strides this year, but this was certainly a step backward. Moving forward, I will do everything I possibly can to represent everyone involved in a positive manner. However, I know my long-term actions will have more of a bearing than anything I say right now.
   Kyle Busch"
    Toyota's Lee White offered a brief statement that "Toyota understands it is NASCAR's responsibility to enforce their rules for the well-being of the sport.  We recognize this is a difficult situation for both Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch…However we are confident in the leadership of Joe and J.D. Gibbs and are certain the team will handle this difficult situation in an appropriate manner."

   The Friday night crash that trigged Kyle Busch's suspension. Busch (18) dumped Ron Hornaday into the wall. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


Here we go again.. Nascar

Here we go again.. Nascar making rules up as they go along. And this why the mainstream media, the sports media and the general sports fan will NEVER take Nascar seriously. First they let their major league stars play in their minor leagues. Can you imagine if Derek Jeter were allowed to compete with local triple A team when he wasn't on the field for the Yankees? Then to top if off, when the major leaguer has a run in with one of the minor leaguers he is suspended from the major league event?? Had this been Edwards or Hamlin, or god forbid ol Jr boy himself the outcome would have been totally different and everybody knows it including Mike Helton and the rest of Nascar. But because it was the guy everybody loves to hate it made it an easy call and more disturbingly, a popular call for Nascar. I have been a Nascar fan for over 40 years and will continue to be a fan but its this kind of rules making on the fly behavior that makes me keep my fandom to myself for fear of being ridiculed by others that I know and meet.

What a sham NASCAR has

What a sham NASCAR has become. This is the worst case of selective enforcement of their "rules" that I can remember since the days when Earnhardt was never penalized for his over-aggressive driving. So Carl Edwards can come back out on the track in a CUP race, over 100 laps down, blatantly wrecking the 6th place car at FULL SPEED, nearly putting Brad Keselowski's car through the catch fence and unnecessarily endangering many spectators, and he only gets a slap on the wrist? Kyle Busch was racing for position, got wrecked by an over-agressive driver, took care of the payback when no other trucks were around, at a spot on the track where there were no fans above, in a lesser series race, and he gets SUSPENDED for a CUP race? And NASCAR wonders why people have quit watching?
Mike, I hope someone in the media will directly question Helton and Company about this hypocrisy between this incident and the Edwards incident. Busch and Gibbs have already given their forced "I'm sorry's" from NASCAR instead of calling BS on this decision. They know it's NASCAR's show and they have to do what they are told. I hope somebody will actually tell it like it is instead of saying that NASCAR made the "right call".

Why is no one saying anything

Why is no one saying anything about Homestead last year?
Nascar instructs drivers in the meeting "do not try to affect the outcome of this championship on the track". So what happens? 11 pits under green and suddenly the 29 doesn't like the way the 18 is driving (after having no problem with him all day) HOOKS him into the wall (wasn't it Delana who was screaming about how hooking someone is taboo in Nascar earlier this year?) sending the 18 into the grass in flames. No call. 11 is trapped a lap down. Affecting the outcome? After the race, 29 gets out of his car and ADMITS he did it on purpose. No call. This, among other incidents that are being talked about, is what proves to me that it really matters WHO your are not WHAT you do. I'm not watching the races this weekend, may not for the rest of the season. My choice, not because of WHO it was, but because of the lynch mob mentality and the hypocrisy that has been displayed by all parties involved.

Kyle Busch needs to grow-up!!

Kyle Busch needs to grow-up!!

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