[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”246″][/media-credit]I have been around NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series since it was known as the Grand National Series and I’ve never seen or heard about anything that compares to what happened in Joliet this weekend. We’re used to seeing drivers get physical with each other after a race ends, but owners? I cannot imagine Joe Gibbs, Jack Roush, or Rick Hendrick throwing punches, but then again, I couldn’t have pictured Richard Childress doing that either. But he did, and it wasn’t a very wise thing to do.
From all reports, the event happened as Kyle Busch was walking to either his transporter or motor home. I’ve heard both. It’s not clear whether Busch said anything to Childress, but Childress took off his watch, got Busch in a headlock, and punched him four times. Busch did not resist, knowing that if he did anything in that situation, he would break his probation agreement. He also knew that trying to stay out of Kevin Harvick’s way at the end of the race at Darlington did him no good. He still got punished because he hit Harvick’s car and knocked it into the pit wall while trying to get away. That wasn’t going to happen this time. Busch walked away for all the eyewitness accounts I’ve heard.
Childress will get the usual $25-30,000 fine and probation from NASCAR according to most of the media experts, but I’m not so sure it will be that lenient. Car owners are held to a higher standard than competitors. NASCAR considers them businessmen and leaders of their respective teams. Back in the old days, the sanctioning body might have looked the other way in a situation like this, but I don’t think they will today. I can’t recall a real fist fight except for Jimmy Spencer punching Kurt Busch through his car window a few years ago (why is it always a Busch?). I do remember standing beside Matt Kenseth when Jeff Gordon, wearing his helmet, pushed him at Bristol. I’ve seen crew members hold back drivers so they wouldn’t get at each other, but never a punch thrown.
It doesn’t matter if Busch said anything to him or not, but a 65-year old man should have sense enough to take whatever a person less than half his age can dish out. Childress as out of line and that’s why NASCAR restricted his movements on Sunday. I look for a heavy penalty for the legendary car owner.
NASCAR promises a full statement and the penalty on Monday. Whatever it is, it won’t set well with fans who have generally taken Childress’ side in the skirmish. Just like they took Harvick’s side in the altercation at Darlington. Busch has his fans, but the loudest cheers come when he falls out of a race or gets passed on the track. I guess he should take solace in that it used to be Jeff Gordon getting that treatment, but this time, the blame falls on Richard Childress. And NASCAR agrees. Prepare for the worst.