Saturday, November 05, 2011

If You Mess With The Bull...

Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway was a classic from start to finish. Kevin Harvick stood in Victory Lane at evening’s end, headlining a victory podium that included brothers Austin and Ty Dillon. Championship contenders rose and fell throughout the evening, and there was enough late-race drama to keep fans on the edge of their seats all the way to the checkered flag.

None of that will be talked about today.

For all intents and purposes, Friday’s race ended on Lap 15, when Kyle Busch responded to three-wide contact with rival and championship contender Ron Hornaday, Jr. by turning Hornaday head-on into the wall under caution. Busch’s high-speed takeout maneuver effectively ended Hornaday’s late-season championship push and reignited the long-simmering debate over NASCAR’s “Boys Have At It” policy and its efficacy.

“I got a little loose and got into him,” admitted an incensed Hornaday afterward. “It was a racing deal. That crap he pulled down there… (was) just ignorant and stupid. If they don’t park him on Sunday, I’ll be really upset.”

Busch placed the blame squarely on Hornaday, saying that as a title contender, he should have known better than to race three-wide so early in the race. “If you consider that Ron was in the championship (picture), maybe he could have played it a little bit smarter… checked up a little and given room to everybody around. There’s not three lanes out there right now. It’s the first race… of the weekend. If I just lay over and give up everything for Ron Hornaday, that’s not Kyle Busch’s fashion. I’m out here to win a race just as much as anybody else.

“When he raced up on my inside and got loose and took me up to the fence, I ended up losing my cool,” admitted Busch. “I’ve been wrecked four weeks in a row and finally I just had enough of it. No doubt about it, I retaliated. It’s certainly my fault for doing that”

Hornaday said he will not rely on NASCAR to sanction Busch, preferring instead to take matters into his own hands. “He’s such a candy-ass, he won’t stay around to get a whooping like he’s supposed to get,” said the four-time Truck Series champion. “We'll see what NASCAR does. If they don't handle it right, I'll be at his house Monday morning.”

Hornaday’s team owner, Kevin Harvick, offered to do the job himself, saying on his team radio, “(Busch) better sit his ass in his motor home or I'm going to come find him and he's going to have to hold my watch because I'm going to whip his ass. He's the biggest whining little piece of (crap) I've seen in my whole life.'' In Victory Lane, Harvick smiled when asked about the incident, saying cryptically, “At some point, (Busch will) feel the pain."

NASCAR’s “Boys Have At It” policy is based on one simple premise; that drivers are capable of policing their own conduct on the race track. There are several examples in the last two seasons of them doing exactly that.

Last season, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski feuded openly for weeks, tearing up a number of race cars and trading barbs in the media. The conflict came to a head in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway, when Edwards hooked his rival into the wall, overturning Keselowski’s Dodge and triggering one of the most violent wrecks in the track’s history. Since then, Edwards and Keselowski have raced together without incident, running door-to-door in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup ranks without so much as a wrinkled fender.

In October of last year, Busch found himself on the receiving end of the “Boys Have At It” rule after dumping David Reutimann early in a race at Kansas Speedway. Roughly 100 laps later, Reutimann returned the favor, stapling Busch to the Turn Two wall, ruining an almost-certain Top-10 finish and dropping the Joe Gibbs Racing driver from third to seventh in the championship standings. Busch has not messed with Reutimann since.

It can be argued that NASCAR’s hands-off approach to policing on-track indiscretions is to blame for last night’s carnage in the Lone Star State. It can also be argued that the “Boys Have At It” system works well, but that Kyle Busch is simply a slow learner.

With the exception of Reutimann’s Kansas payback, Busch has seldom (if ever) been on the receiving end of NASCAR’s brand of frontier justice. He had little to lose by wrecking Hornaday Friday night, having entered the race a whopping 70 points behind Kevin Harvick, Inc. in the battle for the Truck Series owner’s championship. Somewhere down the road, however, he’ll have more on the line. And when he does, Hornaday or Harvick may be there to collect.

Hopefully, they’ll do so on a track more suited to paybacks than Texas. But in the end, the choice will be theirs and theirs alone. Until then, Busch can only wonder when (and if) the rent will come due for “losing his cool” last night at Texas Motor Speedway.

It’s like they say: If you screw with the bull, you’ll get “The Horn.”


  1. Anonymous11:41 AM

    I have been a Kyle Busch fan since he made it to the cup series, that stopped on lap 15 last night. He stepped way over the line with the latest in a long line of infamous Kyle Busch on track meltdowns.Chernobyl can't hold a light. Maybe when he grows up I will give him another chance but at this rate I will be dead or in an old folks home.

  2. Michael11:43 AM

    Edwards/Keselowski ended with Atlanta? Maybe you forgot the NNS race later that year at Gateway, when Edwards dumped Keselowski in front of the field coming off the final turn and caused a huge wreck.

    That said, NASCAR was right to park Busch for the weekend. That's what got Kevin Harvick's attention in 2002 when he kept acting up, and maybe it will be what finally get Kyle's attention. Hit them where it hurts the most.

  3. Anonymous11:56 AM

    as usual Dave, you are right on the money. I have to agree with Hornaday and Harvick. Busch will get his due thumpin, and he needs to be sat down for the weekend, nationwide and cup. maybe next time Kyle wont pinch the middle lane into the bottom, and give the middle a little room to race. just thinking, didnt kyle do that to bodine @ kentucky last year? ran him close on the outside and caused a wreck? kinda like last night?

  4. Anonymous12:35 PM

    kyle searched and finally found the limit to (Boys have at it)

  5. Anonymous12:53 PM

    NASCAR said at the begining of boys have at it,, there is a line to cross and Kyle crossed it last night. NASCAR has reacted by parking him for the entire weekend, NASCAR has also said that there may be more later next week,, congrats to NASCAR for a job well done. Kyle will still need to keep one eye on his rearview mirror, Harvick is coming. I hope that this puts an end to Kyles temper, he is a good driver, but he is never going to be Dale Sr.

  6. Anonymous5:02 PM

    this is way overdue. I hope that one day when KyBu does have something to lose that Harvick and Hornaday are there to enact the appropriate payback.

    It appears that both Busch boys were raised by wolves without manners or any control over their behavior.

  7. Anonymous5:10 PM

    What people seem to forget is Brad and Carls runins was during green flag racing. I would have to agree with you Dave you were spot on with this article. It's a shame a driver with that much tallent will soon be overlooked because of his attitude.

    Jp from tn.

  8. Anonymous9:13 PM

    I like Kyle Busch because he can back up his mouth on the track. He's obviously a great talent. But, he really did cross the line and should be sanctioned from all NASCAR activities for the rest of calendar year. These cars are weapons. What I'd like to know if he could be charged with a criminal act?, and will the county procecuter investigate and charge him?