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Pedley: Crime And Punishment NASCAR Style

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 8 2011

Richard Childress serves time with Austin Dillon as they watch the STP 400 from the roof of Clint Bowyer's hauler. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Alan Marler)

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor

Kansas City, Kan. – Penalties generally have two purposes: To penalize and to send a message. The penalties issued to Richard Childress by NASCAR on Monday failed to do the first and, unfortunately, wildly accomplished the second.

Prompting the issuance of penalties were Childress’ actions in the Camping World Truck Series garages at Kansas Speedway on Saturday. According to witnesses, Childress, angry that Kyle Busch bumped one of his cars during the race, and perhaps because of past actions, repeatedly punched Busch.

On Sunday at Kansas, NASCAR president Mile Helton absolved Busch of any blame for the incident.

On Monday, NASCAR released a statement saying that it was penalizing Childress. The penalties were a $150,000 fine and probation.

On the penalizing effect of the action: The fine is a joke, the probation is a sick joke.

Childress is a very wealthy man. Certainly more wealthy than, say, Carl Long. The size of this fine will not cause ripple No. 1 in his racing business nor his lifestyle as opposed to, say, Carl Long.

If Childress raises the cost of each of the bottles of wine he sells next year by a nickle, he

NASCAR president Mike Helton addressed the media at Kansas Sunday to absolve Kyle Busch. (RacinToday photo by Jim Pedley_

will continue to be able to afford groceries. Please, all of you planning car washes or bake sales to support Childress in this, we assure you, he will get through this financial setback.

Will loss of $150,000 cause Childress to think twice before taking action like he did at Kansas again? The guess here is no.

Probabation? Probation in NASCAR is ill-defined at the very best. At worst, it is open ended and can be used to reward friends and bludgeon non friends. It is neither transparent nor wielded with equality.

The message sent by the “penalty” to Childress is this: Crime is ill-defined and punishment is whimsical in NASCAR.

In NASCAR, the scales of justice are digital and can be reset with a couple strikes of the keypad.

It’s really not much different than in the American justice system but it is radically different than what we were told was proper and correct in grade school civics classes.

None of the above should be construed as support for one side or the other in the alleged attack which occurred at Kansas. They are just opinions on justice, or lack there of, in NASCAR.

Richard Childress is a NASCAR treasure. He is a pioneer in the sport and has helped propel it into the top tier of American professional sports. His record is clean when it comes to off-tracks incidents of the kind alledged at Kansas.

He has issued a statement accepting his penalties, though he has not apologized.

Busch is the best wheelman in the sport. He is hot headed and temperamental but he

Kyle Busch absolved by NASCAR. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Erik J. Perel)

respects the sport as much as any other driver in the garages. He is a positive contributor to the sport.

And the above is not a total indictment of the NASCAR justice system. NASCAR is a private business and as such, has little to do with democracy, fairness and justice.

Just trying to put it all into perspective. Fans should know what they are getting when they slide their money through that little hole in the glass at the ticket booth.

And what they get, the Childress vs. Busch incident shows, is a sport which is bound by neither fairness nor justice.

I have taken a number of emails applauding Childress for punching Busch. Some say it’s cool because it is the way justice used to be administered back when NASCAR was a better sport.

My thoughts on this:

In the outside world, what Childress allegedly did is punishable in a court of law. It’s called battery. If Childress threatened Busch beforehand with intent to terrorize him, add assault to the issue.

If Busch were so inclined, he could file criminal and/or civil charges against Childress.

Some have said that Busch lipped off to Childress and that justified the punching. Well, not under the law: provocation is not justification for battery.

And before some go all anarchistic and say battery laws suck, that fighting is a great way to settle disputes, think about having the facial bones of you or your wife or your child crushed by some moron who thinks you or your family cut in front of him in the line at McDonalds.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.con

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Wednesday, June 8 2011


  • Terry says:

    I can hear Archie and Edith singing ” THOSE WERE THE DAY’S “…
    I remember the words….
    I agree with you to a point…..( he is NOT the best wheelman today )winning minor league races against inferior teams and equipment make a reputation with Gibb’s fanatics….
    also outsiders like..KORNHOZER and WHEELBARROW….
    MINOR league stats don’t count in the MAJORS
    He is good for the sport only as the
    ….. Joker is needed for BATMAN….
    I will give you the McDonalds metaphor ….with the caveat …..
    How many fans go to McDonalds after a hockey game….peacefully.
    It stays in the game. As it should.

  • Phil says:

    I’m no Kyle fan, but Childress beating up a skinny kid just reeks of being a bully.

    At his age, inexcusable.

  • earner says:

    This is’nt McDonalds (or the library) & This was Exactly the way to handle this person (shrub) in this situation… I am sure there is many more who would have liked help shrub with his growing up…I’m with Glen …That guitar smashing was one of the most ignorant actions I’v ever seen ….Jim Pedly ..you missed the mark here…As I said this isn’t a family fast food joint…It’s a Race Track & their Teams…..If Nascar dosn’t get a handle on “Boys have at it” we’re probably going to have a couple of crews go at it down the road (aka bench clearing brawls) So Nascar better stop taking the free ride. & How is it not a breach of probation to this to another competitor after a race? ..Is it true Toyota is running Nascar these days? ..

  • Ken says:

    Does it seem strange to anyone else that Childress attacked Kyle Busch for doing exactly (or less) than Big E did when he drove for Childress? Sr. was the most flagrant driver in racing when it came to hitting and intimidating other drivers. Does anyone recall Childress complaining about his own driver?

  • Richard says:

    In some states provocation by words is enough for you react physically. I had my case dismissed because the judge said i was justified. And yes i’m from the old school Busch should have got this several years ago and a lot of equipment could have been saved.

  • Glen Harness says:

    “Busch respects the sport as much as any driver”? You’ve got to be kidding me. You call trashing a trophy for winning a race respect? I used to be a Busch fan because, as you say, he’s one of the best drivers in the sport. But at some point you have to look at the person, not just the driver. And Busch as a person isn’t someone I want to be rooting for, no matter how good he is.

    NASCAR’s version of probation is a joke. Busch’s actions after the checkered flag fell should have been a violation of his probation, and I think had NASCAR took action, Childress wouldn’t have lost his cool.

  • shawn pettengill says:

    I can understand that in this day in age you can’t settle a problem with your fist. But maybe that is the problem. Back in Mr. Childress’s day if you where a mouthy punk you got put in your place. That is what he did. Mr. Childress put Busch in his place. People like Busch run there mouths and think you can’t touch me it’s the law. WRONG! There still are a few good old school guys around. Thank you Mr. Childress.