SATURDAY UPDATE: NASCAR did more than park Kyle Busch after he tried to run Camping World Truck Series championship contender Ron Hornaday through a wall at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night.
President Mike Helton announced Saturday that Busch had been suspended for the remainder of the weekend - the first time a NASCAR driver had ever been handed such a stiff penalty.
Helton hinted - strongly - that there could be additional sanctions against Busch announced next week.
Busch missed this afternoon's Nationwide Series race (won by Trevor Bayne) and won't be able to race in Sunday's Sprint Cup race. The other two times drivers had been suspended - Kevin Harvick in 2002 and Robbie Gordon in 2007 - were just for the Cup race.
Denny Hamlin drove Busch's Nationwide car today and Michael McDowell will drive his Cup car tomorrow.
Helton said that, "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 [Friday] night."
Busch drives for Joe Gibbs Racing and Gibbs was most upset about the situation.
"Sometimes in life you have to deal with some real tough things," Gibbs said. "This is a tough situation for us. Basically, what we're trying to do is go through it the right way. Everybody here with our race team is trying to meet with everybody that was affected by this and obviously we've got a lot of work to do there and a lot of people to see."
Gibbs refused to discuss possible further sanctions against Busch by NASCAR but suggested there might also be internal team discipline.
Earlier . . .
Friday night, the "new" Kyle Busch became the "old" Kyle Busch at Texas Motor Speedway and the temper-tantrum that saw him destroy an opponent’s truck – with the opponent still in it – might cost him big-time.
If nothing else, it wiped out a season of good will in one fell swoop.
After a year in which "Rowdy" Busch became "Pacifist" Busch (he didn’t threaten to kill anybody all this season, talked nicely to reporters when asked and didn’t even fight back when Sprint Cup team owner Richard Childress put him in a headlock), the younger brother of Kurt Busch lost control of his emotions after his truck and one driven by NASCAR Camping World Series championship contender Ron Hornaday sideswiped each other while passing a slower truck.
Busch then pulled in behind Hornaday and didn’t just try to spin him out to show his displeasure but drove him into the outside wall at the Texas speedway, completely wrecking the front end of Hornaday's truck and putting him out of the race.
Hornaday was not hurt but NASCAR cars and trucks can’t keep going full-tilt into walls at seriously high rates of speed and the drivers just keep walking away. One of these days, it will be Dale Earnhardt all over again and if it’s a case of somebody putting somebody else into the fence on purpose, police other than NASCAR’s will be involved.
NASCAR "parked" Busch immediately and called him to "the trailer" immediately afterward. However, no penalty was announced Friday night and officials said it would be some time on Saturday before anything is decided.
The inference? There will likely be something beyond the race misconduct penalty handed out to Busch Friday night. Although it seldom happens, a driver can be suspended from competition by NASCAR for dangerous driving.
Kevin Harvick won the race, which delighted him because he’s closing down his truck team at season’s end. He was not particularly pleased by what happened between Busch and Hornaday, however, because his team owns the truck that Hornaday was driving.
Asked about the incident, Harvick said: "Kyle showed his immaturity and why he’s one of those guys who can’t stand to lose and (he's) a poor loser. It’s unfortunate for Ron. It’s unfortunate he (Busch) got involved with guys running for the championship.
"At some point, he’ll feel the pain."
Austin Dillon now leads the Camping World title chase with one race remaining.
NOTES: Danica Patrick, who qualified 11th for today’s Nationwide Series race at Texas (Elliot Sadler won the pole for the race that will get the green at 1 p.m. on TSN2) announced she will drive car No. 10 for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team in next year’s Nationwide championship and also revealed the 10 Sprint Cup races she’ll run for Tony Stewart’s Sprint Cup team. The first one, natch, will be the Daytona 500. Strangely absent is the Brickyard 400, although she will be in the Nationwide race scheduled for the Speedway on the same weekend next August. Although no announcement has been made about her driving in the Indianapolis 500 next May, if the logistics can be worked out it’s a good bet that she’ll be in a car entered by her old Andretti Autosport team. . . . David Reutimann is a class act. Obviously disappointed about being thrown out of his ride at Michael Waltrip Racing to make way for senior citizen Mark Martin, Reutimann said he won’t go rustling through the bushes for a decent ride with another team at this late date because it would mean somebody would have to be dumped to make way for him, and "I wouldn’t want that." . . . Greg Biffle has the pole for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race (TSN, 3 p.m.). Carl Edwards, who’s leading the Chase for the Championship with three races remaining (including this one at Texas), will go off seventh. Tony Stewart, who’s nipping at his heels and is in second place, eight points back, will start fifth. . . . Kyle Busch said he lost his temper because of something Ron Hornaday did to him earlier. Maybe so, but the reaction was over the top, boy. Way over the top.