Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Tempers flare, NASCAR steps in

Tuesday, NASCAR handed down $25,000 fines and 4 weeks of probation to drivers Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick for their actions following the race at Darlington on Saturday night. After a couple of run-ins during the race, Harvick tried to get at Busch while on pit road, but was unsuccessful. Kyle drove away, and in the process, knocked Harvick's car out of the way, and into the inside retaining wall.

According to NASCAR, the punishments were for the pit road stuff, and not what happened on the track under race conditions.

My question is this. Why was nothing done to Busch for his actions during the race? Specifically, his action of hooking Harvick's car, and intentionally spinning him out. I understand the "have at it" policy remains in effect, but to me, that's more dangerous that one driver bumping a parked car out of the way to get away from a confrontation.

Busch's team claims that Kyle didn't have the reverse gear in his car, and he had no choice but to bump Harvick's already stopped ride out of the way, to avoid what would have been a fight of some kind. I spoke with Busch's teammate, Joey Logano Tuesday night, and he told me that Kyle did, in fact, not have the ability to reverse his car (explaining the the reverse gears are not very sturdy, and are easily broken by "dumping the clutch"). Again, no problem with that explanation at all. Nobody can convince me that Busch wasn't intentionally trying to dump Harvick under green, just prior to the yellow coming out for Clint Bowyer's late race spin. Bowyer, incidentally, was caught up in the aftermath of a Harvick-Busch bump, which, from what I could see, Harvick tried to avoid leaning on the Busch machine.

My view is that of a TV viewer, and I am positive it looks and feels different from behind the wheel, but at some point, intentionally dumping a driver as a "payback" needs to be viewed a little tougher than the "have at it" policy might suggest. Busch isn't alone in retaliation, as others have done it too, but there is going to come a time that a driver gets paid back, and ends up paying a far heavier price.

NASCAR seems to enjoy its shades of gray, but in case like this, black and white would serve a far better purpose.

Mike Solarte

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