Bromberg: NASCAR Has A Consistency Problem
By Nick Bromberg | Senior Writer
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.”
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.9 Comments