Busch’s Punishment Doesn’t Fit The Crime

Charlotte, NC (November 11, 2011) – If you’ve watched as many episodes of Law and Order as I have, you know that sometimes the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.

That said, with all due respect to NASCAR, the suspension of Kyle Busch this past weekend at Texas Motor Speedway was the wrong punishment for the crime.

In case you missed it, Busch intentionally crashed Ron Hornaday into the turn three fence under caution early in Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at TMS.

As warranted, NASCAR immediately parked Busch for the remainder of the Truck Series contest. Saturday morning, the sanctioning body dropped section 9.12 of the NASCAR rulebook on Busch suspending him for the rest of the weekend’s TMS events – the NASCAR Nationwide Series race later that day – and Sunday’s Sprint Cup clash.

While we can totally support any sanctions against Busch for his Truck Series bad boy antics, we have difficulty cozying up to NASCAR’s weekend suspension edict that unfairly punished thousands of others who had nothing to do with the incident.


Yup, thousands.

Let’s start with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Dozens of team members who work on Busch’s NNS and Cup teams were immediately punished because they had to scramble to forge an effort with a replacement driver.

To their credit, the JGR Nationwide team and Denny Hamlin scored a second-place finish Saturday, an incredible achievement considering the circumstances and the degree of difficulty that kind of effort imposes.

Sunday, Busch’s JGR Cup team wasn’t as lucky. While Michael McDowell is a capable driver, he’s no Kyle Busch and the results showed with a 33rd-place finish.

Bottom line – JGR had nothing to do with what happened Friday night and those teams didn’t deserve to be punished.

NASCAR’s Texas ‘two-step’ on Busch also created a sponsor problem as companies who paid money to have Busch in their colors Saturday and Sunday didn’t get what they paid for.

In a time when money is short and sponsors are valued more than ever, this decision could have some long term consequences for Busch and NASCAR.

Finally, Busch does have his fans. You can be sure a lot of his supporters made the trip to Texas, decked out in his gear and vacation money in their pockets. Having NASCAR put their boy on the pit box Sunday isn’t exactly an silver plated invitation to come back to TMS the next time NASCAR rolls into DFW.

In our view, all of the above – folks who had nothing to do with Busch’s Friday exploits in his own Kyle Busch Motorsports truck – got unfairly punished.

Call it the law of unintended consequences.

Perhaps a more fair punishment – one consistent with the crime – would have been to suspend Busch from any further competition in the Truck Series this season.

That would mean he could not compete in the final division race at Homestead-Miami Speedway in two weeks.

And, if NASCAR really wanted to turn the screws a little harder on Busch, they could have thrown in a suspension from the 2012 season-opening Truck Series race at Daytona.

Heck, for all we care, NASCAR could ban Busch from the Truck Series for however long they wanted to. Based on how much he wins, Busch probably should be prevented from racing there on a regular basis anyway.

The bottom line is that this kind of punishment strikes to the core of Busch’s ‘crime.’ He gets punished, his KBM team gets admonished – not folks on other teams, business associates, or the fans.

Busch deserved to be sanctioned – there’s no argument about that. There’s also talk further penalties may be forthcoming this week. That would be unfortunate because in our estimation, NASCAR has already spread more than enough of that around.

Last Call

Reaction in the court of public opinion for the Busch-Hornaday incident was swift, especially in the social media world where rushes to judgment come quicker than you can say O.J. Simpson.

The web was quickly flooded with ‘jurors’ Friday night posting their verdict and sentencing of Busch even before Hornaday’s rumpled No. 33 was on the hook and back in the TMS garage area.

Some of the posts were just plain silly stating Busch had tried to “murder” Hornaday. Others stated Busch needed to be suspended from NASCAR “for life.”

Meanwhile, an ESPN Sports Nation poll asking if JGR should fire Busch responded affirmatively by a 55-45 percent.

You’ve got to be kidding, right?

This is stock car racing folks, where all drivers – not just Kyle Busch – are passionate enough about the sport to run over each other at high speed in an effort to go home with the trophy. If some fans think that is grounds for dismissal, then please change the channel to golf, tennis or some other gentrified sport.

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