Sparks Fly In – And After – Texas Trucks Race
By John Sturbin | Senior Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas – Kyle Busch admittedly went off the deep end Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. And without apology, Busch took Ron Hornaday Jr.’s championship hopes with him.
Upset with contact initiated by Hornaday that caused him to brush the Turn 2 wall under green, Busch retaliated under yellow by pile-driving the four-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion into the wall exiting Turn 4. Both drivers walked away from the incident on Lap 14 of the 13th annual Winstar World Casino 350k, their trucks reduced to junk.
Hornaday began the night tied with Johnny Sauter for third in the championship, 15 points behind leader Austin Dillon. Hornaday, who finished 34th in the 36-truck field, saw his bid for a record fifth series title disintegrate as he exited Texas fourth in points and 48 behind Dillon with one event remaining. The series will end its season at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 18.
The race was won under a green-white-checkered finish by Cup Series regular Kevin Harvick, whose Kevin Harvick Inc. fields Hornaday’s trucks. It was Harvick’s first NCWTS win at TMS. Austin Dillon finished second and younger brother Ty placed third in his first start at TMS.
NASCAR officials immediately parked what was left of Busch’s truck and ordered the owner/driver and crew chief Eric Phillips to the sanctioning body’s trailer for a post-race chat. Kerry Tharp, NASCAR’s
senior director/competition communications said the session was “to the point and didn’t last long.” Busch and Phillips have been instructed to meet again with NASCAR Saturday morning, Tharp said.
Theoretically, Busch’s participation in Saturday’s seventh annual O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge NASCAR Nationwide Series event and Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 Sprint Cup Series race hinge on Busch’s explanation of the events that initially unfolded between Turns 1 and 2 of TMS’ 1.5-mile quadoval.
Case in point is Harvick, who was forced to sit out the Cup Virginia 500 at the half-mile Martinsville Speedway in April 2002 after taking out Coy Gibbs during a Truck Series race the previous afternoon.
Hornaday and Busch were in pursuit of pole-sitter/race-leader James Buescher when the pair came up on the lapped No. 07 truck of Johnny Chapman riding the bottom lane. Hornaday got to Chapman first and brushed against the right side of his No. 07 Toyota Tundra. That contact got Hornaday loose, and his truck drifted up and into the left side of Busch’s, which then tagged the outside wall.
With the caution out, Busch chased Hornaday down and ran into the rear end of his truck, using the right front fender to turn Hornaday around. Hornaday’s truck did a half-spin and struck the wall front-end first.
Busch retreated to his hauler as his crew ripped the right front quarter panel and front damage from the No. 18 Traxxas Toyota. About 20 minutes after the incident, Hornaday and an entourage strolled into the area where Busch’s crew was at work. Hornaday got an explanation from a Busch crewman, waited a few minutes for Busch to come out and then headed for his own pit area in the TMS infield parking lot.
“It’s a shame,” said Hornaday, driver of the No. 33 OneMain Financial Chevrolet Silverado. “I mean, it’s not like I did anything wrong. I ran him down from a straightaway. He was faster, a lapper (Chapman) was there and I moved up down the straightaway, not in the corner. And he had his right front tire to my (left rear) quarter-panel. You know you’re going to get loose, and that’s what he meant to do.
“I got a little loose and I got into him, but it was a racing deal. The crap he pulled down there, they parked Harvick for the same retaliation at Martinsville. If they don’t park him (Busch) Sunday, I’ll be really upset. That’s just ignorant and stupid – I don’t know what you want to call it. He’s such a candy-ass, he won’t stay around to get a whipping like he’s supposed to get.”
Busch emerged from the back of his hauler about 10 minutes later, sporting a black knit cap on a cold night. Busch was calm and polite, but unapologetic.
“Obviously, it’s two guys racing for tight real estate and there’s only two lanes of racetrack out there right now,” said Busch, an eight-time Truck Series winner this season. “I’m racing for a win just as much as Ron Hornaday is and it’s Lap 15. And he wants to make it three-wide with a lapped car and knowing that you always get loose when you’re on the inside. He got loose, got into me and knocked me up into the wall. And I lost my cool, yeah, no doubt about it. I’ve been wrecked four weeks in a row and I’ve had enough of it and I retaliated.
“It’s certainly my fault for doing that but for everybody who wants to say that, ‘Well, Hornaday is racing for a championship _ just roll over’ _ that’s not my fashion. That’s not anybody else’s fashion out here. It’s a truck race, first race of the night here this weekend and so if I just lay over and give up everything for Ron Hornaday, that’s not Kyle Busch’s fashion.
“All these race car drivers are racers to go out here and win a race. That’s what I was here to do and I got taken out of it on Lap 15.
“Sorry it was Ron Hornaday and he’s going after a championship. The fact of the matter is you can’t place all blame on one person. There was two people that got into it to begin with and there was two people that ended it.”
At that point, Busch said he had not heard directly from NASCAR officials. And he did not immediately plan to talk to Hornaday.
“No and no,” Busch stated.
Informed that Hornaday said he believed Busch should be parked for Sunday’s race, Kyle said: “No. It’s not his decision, or mine. I mean, my truck was hurt. I brushed the wall but my truck was hurt. I don’t think we could have won after that. If you’re a guy racing for a championship you need to be smart enough to understand that you can’t go three-wide on Lap 15 and knowing how bad the trucks are when you’re on the inside of somebody and not expect to get loose, you know?
“Yeah, it was my fault after the fact, but who’s going to fix my truck after it was wrecked in Turn 2 the first time? That’s it.”
Harvick danced around the question if Busch should be parked, as he was at Martinsville.
“The worst part about this whole ‘Boys, have at it’ thing is the whole retaliation thing,” said Harvick, driver of the No. 2 Hunt Brothers Pizza Chevrolet. “It just seems that, for one, Kyle showed his immaturity tonight. If he’s not winning he’s pouting and throwing a fit. It’s one of those things where he’s going to grow up or he’s going to have some swollen eyes.”
Austin Dillon, meanwhile, now has a 20-point lead over Sauter heading to the 1.5-mile HMS layout. Dillon is 28 points ahead of native Texan Buescher, whose bid for his first series victory ended when he ran out of gas and fell a lap down. Dillon can clinch his first Truck Series title by finishing 16th or better, 17th or better with one lap-led or 18th or better with most laps led. At 21, he is bidding to become the youngest champion in NCWTS history.
Dillon said he had a clear view of the incident between Busch and Hornaday. “It was right in front of me,” said Dillion, driver of the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Chevy fielded by Richard Childress Racing. “That wasn’t the right thing to do on Kyle’s part, but he was pretty mad at the move Ron made through Turns 1 and 2. I hate that he wrecked under caution. That was not the right move to make.
“They should have kept on racing. They were both dinged up after that, so I felt like Kyle felt he was out of the race after his right front fender got knocked in, because they were racing a lapped car and it was pretty early. You got to know people’s driving styles and Ron’s a go-getter. He’s not going to lift, so it’s part of racing. I hate it ended like that for Ron and Kyle both. But what’s bigger in the big picture right there? Ron went under caution and he couldn’t control how Kyle wrecked him. Shoot, I know I’d be upset for both parties, I guess.
“Ron’s racing for a championship; Kyle is racing for an owner’s championship. I know it’s not the right move to make to do that under caution. But he was mad and I guess your emotions can take control sometimes. But you’ve got to be a bigger man.”
– John Sturbin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org Comments