Amanda Vincent, NASCAR Correspondent
Kyle Busch penalized by NASCAR
NASCAR announced this morning that Kyle Busch will be parked for the duration of the Texas Motor Speedway race weekend, due to his actions last night in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Busch will not be driving his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Nationwide Series race, nor will he drive the No. 18 JGR Toyota in the AAA Texas 500 Sprint Cup Series event on Sunday.
NASCAR president Mike Helton explained why Busch will not race today or on Sunday: During the truck race last night, we had an incident between the 18 and the 33 trucks that resulted in NASCAR parking the 18 truck for the balance of the event.
“That's done under Section 9-12 of the Rule Book. That gives NASCAR the authority to react during a race weekend. Following the event and after a good deal of conversation and discussion, NASCAR has decided to maintain that parked position on the driver of the 18 truck for the balance of the weekend,” added Helton.
The incident happened on lap 13 during the WinStar World Casino 350K Truck series race on Friday night. Busch, driver of the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota, and series championship contender Ron Hornaday made slight contact while racing for second position. The duo were trying to get around a lap down truck on the 13th lap of the 147-lap event.
He just drove me into the fence.
That incident brought out a caution, during which Busch retaliated by turning Hornaday around with enough contact to send the No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet driver into the wall.
Hornaday, a four time Truck series champion, came to Texas just 15 points behind series leader Austin Dillon but due to the hit by Busch, Hornaday was not able to continue and as a result he fell out of championship contention with just one race remaining in the Truck Series season.
“He knew what I was going for, and he knew I was there,” Hornaday said. “He just drove me into the fence.”
Busch said that his actions were justified, claiming that Hornaday didn’t give him enough room on the racetrack.
“I can’t go out in the dirt,” Busch said. “There aren’t three lanes right now.”
NASCAR officials met this morning and called Busch into the dreaded trailer for a meeting. He was joined by Joe Gibbs and J.D. Gibbs, his team owners in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series. The sanctioning body announced, after the meeting and prior to the Cup series practice this morning, that Busch would not be allowed to race for the remainder of the weekend.
When Helton was asked about the comment on this being the year of ‘boys have at it’ comment before the 2011 season started, he said “The responsibility over the past two or three seasons we've given back to the drivers came I think with a very clear understanding that there could be a line that got crossed.
“As annoying as the comments that I've made personally in the past about 'we'll know it when we see it' might have been, we saw it last night. Obviously after the event, a lot of folks put their heads together to decide what, if anything, we would do. Then what I'm telling you today is our reaction,” he added.
Busch came to Texas seventh in the Chase for the Cup championship this weekend and the severity of the penalty has now cost him any hope of taking the Cup title this year.
Michael McDowell was named by JGR as Busch’s replacement in the Sprint Cup race which allows the team to garner valuable points. A Nationwide Series replacement has not yet been named.
Helton ended his press conference at the speedway today with this comment: “On occasion you have an incident to take the responsibility, to take the additional step like we're talking about this morning, and 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.”
See the video of the incident Crash video on Motorsport.com