BULLETIN: NASCAR today suspended Kurt Busch until June 13 and has extended his probation until the end of the year after the driver threatened to assault a reporter following the Nationwide Series race at Dover last Saturday.
Busch will not be allowed to drive in any of the NASCAR-sanctioned races at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania next weekend.
According to NASCAR, Busch violated Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing; violation of probation; verbal abuse to a media member) of the 2012 NASCAR Rule Book.
Busch had been placed on probation May 15 for his actions during the May 12 Sprint Cup Series event at Darlington Raceway. That probation was scheduled to end July 25.
Norris note: it should have been longer (see original post below).
Now, I have to get a few things off my chest before I start the Monday Morning Report:
Note to newspaper editors, radio program managers and everybody else who has control over content going into their publications or out on the air:
You see, and hear, this everywhere. On the pages of my own newspaper, most recently this weekend in an article written by a professor at the University of Montreal, this race was incorrectly identified again.
Grands Prix are not awarded to cities. They are awarded to countries. That’s why we have the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne and the Canadian Grand Prix at Montreal.
We do not have the Magny Cours Grand Prix, the Monte Carlo Grand Prix or the Barcelona Grand Prix. It is wrong, wrong, wrong to continually refer to it as the Montreal Grand Prix.
Paul Tracy, Tommy Kendall, Adam Alexander and Dave Despain were discussing Kurt Busch on Wind Tunnel last night and, once again, everybody missed the point.
Never mind everything that’s happened previously. On Saturday, at Dover, on pit road in a media scrum, Kurt Busch threatened a man with bodily harm. He threatened to beat him up and said the only reason he didn’t was because he was on NASCAR probation.
That’s not funny.
NASCAR should throw him out of the sport for that. (I guarantee if any athlete in any other sport threatened to beat up a reporter, he or she would be suspended indefinitely.)
I don’t know where any of the four people mentioned at the beginning of this sequence get off constantly talking about personal confrontation as being "good for the sport."
The most popular form of motor racing in the world is Formula One racing and when did you ever hear about a "feud" in F1? Michael Schumacher, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button and the rest all have too much class for that.
I suppose if you are interested in appealing to people with an IQ of 50, then guys like Kurt Busch and his brother (who once threatened to kill Denny Hamlin, remember?) can be your role models.
But it’s 2012 and Madison Ave. is what fuels NASCAR now and the people who sit on the boards of directors of the corporations who finance big-league auto racing are not impressed when guys like Kurt Busch threaten to beat the shit out of somebody.
"And I’d do it if I wasn’t on probation."
Here are the results of Sunday’s races, and other news:
– The first of two red flags Sunday (we’ll get to the second, more serious, one later) came early in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover, Del., when Tony Stewart tried to go slip underneath Landon Cassil’s car in turn two and lost control.
When the smoke cleared (pardon the pun), 13 cars had been involved in The Big One, the track was blocked and NASCAR was forced to throw the first red flag of 2012. It was out for about 20 minutes before the race was restarted on Lap 10 of the 400-lap Fedex 400.
Stewart was the only Chase for the Championship contender involved. The rest continued in the race that was won, in the end, by Jimmie Johnson, with Kevin Harvick second, Matt Kenseth third, Dale Earnhardt Jr. fourth and Clint Bowyer fifth.
Pole sitter Mark Martin wound up 14th.
Lot of empty seats at Dover but look at any baseball stadium – except maybe where the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs or the Dodgers play – and they’re all half-empty so I don’t think it’s any particular reflection on the popularity of auto racing.
I used to think so, but not anymore. The economy is in the dumper in the U.S. - unemployment is above 8 per cent down there and climbing - and people can't afford to buy the tickets any more.
That's why, along with just about everything else, things are so much cheaper down there. For instance (and I know I'm getting ahead of myself here), a Sunday-only grandstand ticket for the Detroit Indy car race cost $65; in Toronto, a Sunday-only gold seat for the Honda Indy will set you back $125.
– The NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race at Circuit ICAR at Mirabel Airport north of Montreal was won in a green-white-checkered finish by Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., followed by F.R. Fitzpatrick of Cambridge and Scott Steckly of Milverton.
It was Ranger’s 17th career victory in the series and his 12th road course victory.
L.P. Dumoulin of Trois-Rivieres was fourth and D.J. Kennington of St. Thomas finished fifth.
The stock car series will next race at the Speedway at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Sat., June 16.
– Robert Wickens of Guelph and Toronto, driving in the German Touring Car Series (DTM) for Mercedes, finished 13th after qualifying 19th in the race Sunday at Spielberg, Austria.
The race was won by Edoardo Mortara, driving for Audi.
Wickens and a second Canadian in the race, Bruno Spengler, now of France but formerly of Ste-Hippolite, Que., collided at one point and Spengler was eventually forced to retire.
– The Red Bull F1 team has been told to fill in the holes in the floor of its chassis before the Canadian GP next weekend. Red Bull’s Helmut Marko has been quoted as saying, however, that Red Bull planned to use a different floor design at Montreal anyway.
– The Nissan Delta Wing completed its first successful test at the Circuit de la Sarthe Sunday where the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be held in two weeks.
The car ran 54 laps of the eight-plus mile raceway without incident and had a best time of 3 minutes, 47.980 seconds, about three seconds off where it will have to be in order to safely compete in the marathon.
Invited by the organizers as a "Garage 56" entry to showcase new and/or innovative technologies, the DeltaWing features half the weight, half the horsepower and half the aerodynamic drag of a typical prototype and is expected to cut fuel and tire consumption significantly.
– On a sad note, Roy Salvadori, who won the 1959 24 Hours of Le Mans and also drove in F1, died at his retirement home in Monte Carlo. He was 90.
– Okay, here we go.
James Hinchcliffe of Oakville is coming into the Toronto Star building today (Monday) to do a little public relations work in support of next month’s Honda Indy Toronto.
I sure hope he’ll have calmed down by the time he gets here because he was spitting mad after Sunday’s Detroit Grand Prix in which his glorious second-season record in the IZOD IndyCar Series came to a sudden halt against a tire wall because of the incompetence of the people who run that series.
Before I continue down this particular road, the race – when it eventually finished – was won by Scott Dixon, with Dario Franchitti second and Simon Pagenaud third. It featured a two-hour red flag and was shortend to 60 laps from the original 90.
Oh, and a great piece of driving by Indy 500 winner Franchitti who was fighting the 'flu and who fought his way almost to the front from 15th on the grid. It was the second one-two finish in a row for Target Chip Ganassi Racing, too.
Hicnchliffe, meantime, hadn’t been having the greatest of weekends anyway. His record of always qualifying for the Firestone Fast Six at road and street-course races came to an end Saturday when he brushed the wall of the circuit at Belle Park Island in the middle of the Detroit River and did some slight damage to his car.
As a result, he went off 14th in the race.
At least he got to start when they threw the green flag, though. The other Canadian in the race, Alex Tagliani of Montreal, qualified a wonderful third but then an electrical glitch prevented his engine from firing up and he was still in the pits when everybody else went racing.
Tag eventually recovered and, to his great credit, fought his way up to finish tenth.
But back to Hinchcliffe.
So they’re all racing around and he’s hovering in the top twelve and all of a sudden his car doesn’t turn at a particular corner and wham! Into the tires he goes.
To say he was miffed would be an understatement. Not only did his record of having been the only driver in the series to have completed every lap of every race run to date come to an end, but he could have been hurt.
"I’ve neve seen anything quite like this," he told a TV interviewer shortly after he crashed, which brought out a red flag six laps later (he crashed on lap 39 and the field circulated behind the pace car for six laps while IndyCar officials tired to figure out what to do).
"We saw (the track) start to come up early (in the race), they had debris flags down in turn five and turn nine, these giant pieces of this tar that had been ripped up . . . I guess there was nothing they could do about it so they just let us keep running.
"It was like playing Russian Roulette and I just pulled the bullet. I came through turn six and a new chunk had been ripped up and it had a big piece of concrete attached to the bottom of it, it hooked under the front of the car and lifted the front end off the ground and that was it."
Now, how did this happen? Who was supposed to perform the due dilligence to ensure the track at Belle Isle would be able to handle 25 Indy cars running in a pack?
It’s not like this is the first time Indy cars have run on street courses. You look for certain things because of screw-ups that have happened before. I mean, it’s not the first time that tar/pavement has been sucked up like that. It happened at Toronto eons ago; it happened at Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve a year or two ago.
Hinchcliffe was caught out on Lap 39 but during the red flag, other drivers talked about dodging bits and pieces that had been flying around all race. Some pointed to where their cars had been damaged and at least one – Tony Kanaan – complained about a piece of pavement bouncing off his helmet.
So, what would have happened if a piece had cut through a visor and the driver been killed or injured, as almost happened to poor Felipe Massa when he was hit by a spring.
Maybe nobody wants to talk about this, but it borders on negligence. Somebody should be disciplined. It was an embarrassment and a disgrace.
The drivers all kept talking about wanting to restart the race "for the fans." Most of the TV audience was long gone (I think TSN2 was the only network in North America to stay with the program from start to finish) and more than half the fans on site had packed up and were in their cars, driving away from Belle Isle before the race even got going again.
But it should never have come to that. When is this series going to stop shooting itself in the foot?