Busch declined to honor mandatory post-race media obligations following Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, where he suffered a blown left-front tire on the final lap, losing the race to Austin Dillon. The defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion was upset with NASCAR's decision not to throw a caution flag for the incident; a decision that would have frozen the field and awarded him the win. In addition to refusing to take part in post-race media sessions, Busch reacted angrily on his in-car radio after the event, accusing the sanctioning body of “fixing races."
NASCAR's new 2016 Code of Conduct prescribes fines of $10,000 to $50,000 and/or probation for comments disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR's leadership.
Officials said after the race that they elected to "let (the race) play out,” since Busch continued to race on the exploded tire and they saw nothing that posed an imminent safety risk.
Patrick, meanwhile, faces possible sanctions for approaching the racing surface under caution, following a crash with Kasey Kahne on Lap 121 of Sunday’s Auto Club 400.
Kahne, running a lap down after an unscheduled pit stop, appeared to hook the right-rear corner of Patrick’s Chevrolet after being passed, sending Patrick hard into the outside retaining wall. Patrick climbed quickly from her damaged machine and walked to within four feet of the racing surface before gesturing at Kahne as he rolled past under caution.
Her response was a violation of Section 10.4.2.1 of the NASCAR Rulebook, which states "At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach any portion of the racing surface or apron. At no time should a driver or crew member(s) approach another moving vehicle."
NASCAR Executive Vice President and chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell told Sirius/XM NASCAR Radio’s The Morning Drive today that the sanctioning body is examining what happened, to determine whether a penalty is justified.
"That's one of the things we will be reviewing,” he said. “That's part of having all the video tape. We want to take some time ... there's a lot going on during a race. Coming back from the West Coast, we've got to take the time to evaluate all that.
"We do have a rule in place and want to make sure… what the circumstances (were) around that. Rules are in place to keep the drivers safe, and we want to review everything that took place there and see if there's anything we need to react to this week.”
Kahne was summoned to the NASCAR transporter after the event to give his view of the crash. He took blame for the incident, but insisted it was unintentional.
“I just got too close,” he said. “The car was moving around and we hit and she had a bad wreck. I felt really bad because it was (nothing but) trying to hold my position. I’ve never had an issue with Danica at all. It was an avoidable accident in the middle of the straightaway.”
For her part, Patrick said, “I saw him chase me down the track, then the next thing I know I was getting spun up the track. I was passing him. He was behind me in the right rear. I don’t know what kind of day he was having… if he felt like he was put in a position to have to be that desperate a lap down. I was running good race laps and on the lead lap (in) the Top 20 from a bad starting position.”