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Bromberg: NASCAR Has A Consistency Problem

Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 5 2011

Driver Michael McDowell, who will be in Kyle Busch's Sprint Cup car the rest of the weekend, and crew chief Dave Rogers talk to NASCAR official John Darb on Saturday morning. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Harold Hinson)

By Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

FORT WORTH, Texas – Hey Jamie McMurray, it’s a good thing that you tried to wreck Brian Vickers last weekend. If your actions had transpired at Texas Motor Speedway, you might have gotten suspended.

With the announcement of Kyle Busch’s suspension for Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race and Saturday’s Nationwide Series race (and possibly beyond), those clamoring for NASCAR to draw the line in the “Boys Have At It” era have gotten their wish.

“The responsibility that 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,” NASCAR President Mike Helton said when announcing Busch’s punishment.

“And as annoying as the comments that I’ve made personally in the past of, ‘We’ll know it when we see it’ might have been,, we saw it last night.”

Those in NASCAR race control might have seen it. But I’m still looking for it.

Why? Well, let’s go back to McMurray. After being one of Brian Vickers’ first victims at Martinsville, McMurray wanted to take matters into his own hands. And he did, sans his battery.

The lack of that battery made for an incredibly amusing and pitiful attempt at payback – and minimal damage to Vickers’ car. But that payback attempt came under caution, just like Busch’s payback of Ron Hornaday Jr., and under a caution that he and Vickers caused. (Again, just like Busch and Hornaday.)

Sure, Busch executed – and took himself out in the process. Helton said that Hornaday’s standing in the Camping World Truck Series were not major factors in Busch’s punishment.

“The implication of the 33 truck being in the points battle in the Camping World Truck Series probably had a small impact on the reaction, but I think the bulk of the action in its entirety and all the circumstances attached to it just accumulated in the action we made,” Helton said.

Helton also said that Busch’s actions over the course of the season – including an intentional crash of Elliott Sadler at Bristol in the Truck Series – were an influence, but not a major one.

“Today is the most severe reaction, but we felt like the circumstances came together to warrant the reaction we’re talking about this morning,” Helton said. “The question about the accumulation of incidents around the driver leading to the decision making process – I won’t sit here and tell you it’s not an influence, but it’s not an overriding influence.”

So, if for the most part, incidents are incidents by themselves, without strong ties to past circumstance, the question begs to be asked: Why Kyle Busch?

Why not Edwards, whom NASCAR put on probation after he sent Brad Keselowski flying? Why not Vickers at Sonoma after he purposely dumped Tony Stewart, killing Stewart’s chances at a victory? Why not McMurray last weekend? Sure, neither of those mentioned involved had the recent history that Busch has, but if past circumstance isn’t an overriding factor, what was, in this case?

In his statement on Saturday, Helton channeled Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s famous declaration on pornography. And yeah, we do all know what porn is when we see it.

For the most part, we know what an intentional crash is too when we see it. But apparently there are varying degrees of acceptance and severity. Helton talked about the ‘evolution of policy’ in his press conference Saturday. Is this a new standard for NASCAR, and is Kyle Busch’s suspension a warning shot over the bow of all NASCAR teams?

Or will this be another one in a seemingly long list of inconsistent decisions? We’ll find out as we move forward, because I sure as hell don’t know where the line is right now.

Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 5 2011
9 Comments

9 Comments »

  • Richard Moore says:

    Janet:
    Best fan input (writing) I have ever read, point by point spot on.
    Dan’s passing I too feel is the difference between earlier in the year and now.
    Look forward to reading more from you!

  • john says:

    How can you possibly defend this guy?

    1. He wrecked a guy who was racing for a championship that he himself is literally not a part of.

    2. This really helps put the nail in the coffin for the “Cup guys shouldn’t be in Trucks/Nationwide” argument.

    3. He wrecked him AFTER A CAUTION FLEW.

    4. He wrecked him AT TEXAS DOING 160 MPH, not 40 mph at MARTINSVILLE.

    5. He used a HOOK (left-front to right-rear), resulting in Hornaday’s truck going headfirst into the wall. Had the safer barrier not been there, we might be talking about how Busch broke Hornaday’s neck.

    6. Vickers actually WAS genuinely driving over his head, acting stupid and bumping people. Hornaday made a mistake during a difficult 3-wide situation on a green race track at 180 mph.

    7. Both trucks, after the incident, were perfectly repairable, and both Busch and Hornaday have been known to WIN races with beat up trucks stuck together with duct tape, even at big tracks. His day was far from done.

    8. Busch has a history of not giving a DAMN about whoever he’s racing in Nationwide and Truck, and feeling entitled to every single position, and every single win.

    I hope this is a wakeup call for Busch. But somehow I doubt it.

  • Bill B says:

    Nick,
    You are really grabbing at straws trying to defend Kyle Busch. Lots of guys have hit competitors in retribution and, if it were up to me, most of them would be penalized to control the integrity of the sport. However to compare McMurray’s lame hit at 40 mph at Martinsville to what Kyle did at Texas is grabbing at straws.
    The only other hit that I’ve seen lately that should have been penalized similarly without debate was Carl Edwards hitting Brad Kesolowki.
    So, keep making excuses for Kyle fanboy, just know that you are in the small minority of those who feel that way.

  • Lydia says:

    Well one day we’re all going to have to get off the fence and pick a side. For me, NASCAR made an error when they failed to sit Carl out for his punt of Brad. I like the “boys have at it” era…we never would have needed NASCAR to prompt the drivers to tussle if NASCAR had been consistent in their rulings the past 5-10 years. So my side of the fence is NASCAR shut up…let the guys drive and fix things on their own. Now that said there has to be..should be.. a line..Helton said they would know it when it was crossed. Kyle crossed it …but I imagine seeing Carl get by with his antics gave Kyle a false sense of entitlement. So NASCAR..keep quiet..let boys be boys..and if and when the line is crossed drop the hammer down. All this hem hawing over where the line is..is silly. The drivers ALL know where that line is and Friday night Kyle not only crossed it he doubled back and ran over that line a second time just to make his point.

    • Rob says:

      Good point Lydia. I think NASCAR dropped the ball when they failed to park Edwards after he tried to put a 3500 lb car into the grandstand. I’m still glad, though, that they parked Busch this weekend.

  • Sue Rarick says:

    This entire season has been ridiculous. NASCAR should begin to realize that they are no longer needed. The Internet and technology has progressed to the point that historic local tracks can broadcast Hi-Def live feeds over the Internet for extremely low costs. And before you dismiss the idea remember the Internet is world wide. There is no reason a person in China or Germany won’t find racing at a place like the Nashville Fairgrounds more exciting than a gas mileage race at a 1.5 mile cookie cutter track.

    I got my boyfriend interested in NASCAR and racing in general. But after watching me race on iRacing he made the comment that the racing he saw on their broadcast was more fun to watch than the NASCAR race. As I said in the beginning, NASCAR is no longer needed.

  • Janet says:

    Boy, are you late to the party. The issue here isn’t whether or not NASCAR is justified in penalizing Busch for his actions; the issue is, why haven’t they done this sooner? This has been brewing for a very long time – and anyone who didn’t see this coming is just as much an ostrich as NASCAR has been.

    Kyle is completely narcissistic – and reckless – which means he feels completely justified in doing whatever he feels like doing, on & off the track. Up to this point, NASCAR – as well as Kyle’s team owners & sponsors – have let him. Now, they’ve said, “Enough is enough.” Long overdue. Will it change Kyle’s behavior and/or attitude? I sincerely doubt it; his problems lie deeper than an essential slap on the wrist can get to.

    Of course NASCAR’s decision was based on Kyle’s past actions – how could it not be? I have no idea what kind, if any, warnings he’s been given in the past…if there were any, it’s clear he’s paid no attention to them.

    Think about this: What has changed in the past three weeks? What happened in racing three weeks ago? A driver DIED – a champion driver, who was well-liked and well-respected. And, he died not from malice or intent – it was a racing incident. Racing incidents, by and large, can’t be controlled. But…needless, thoughtless, and malicious incidents CAN be, at least after the fact. The bar of tolerance for Kyle’s behavior got lowered when Dan Wheldon was killed…Kyle is just too self-absorbed to realize that.

    There’s your line.

  • Brian Buechel says:

    Helton should have considered the fans. One only has to look at the stands during the races to see where Nascar is under the present leadership. After watching Hornaday from his beginings here in California the way he pushed thru with no regard for KB is the way he drives. He deserved what he got. Busch finally got tired of his crap win at any cost style. Some of my friends stopped watching Nascar after the boring nose to tail race at Daytona.

    Look up in the stands Helton its not the economy its YOU!!!
    I for one will not watch on Sat or Sun to cookie cutter for me.