Monday, March 13, 2017

COMMENTARY: NASCAR Needs A "Third Man In" Rule

The final lap of Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway showcased the best and the worst that NASCAR has to offer.

A dramatic last-lap pass sent Martin Truex, Jr. to Victory Lane, making him the first driver ever to sweep all three stages of a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race. A final-lap skirmish between perennial title contenders Kyle Busch and Joey Logano sent Busch spinning down pit road, triggering a post-race melee that left Busch with a bloodied face and bruised feelings, promising payback somewhere down the road.

Busch and Logano banged fenders as they approached the limping car of Brad Keselowski, who had surrendered the lead to Truex just moments before when something went amiss in the suspension of his Team Penske Ford. Busch forced Logano low to avoid Keselowski, and as the pair entered the final turn, Logano appeared to lose control and skate up the track into Busch.

Busch’s No. 18 Toyota spun down pit road, eventually crossing the line in 22nd place. Busch extricated himself from his wrecked machine and stalked angrily toward Logano, throwing at least one punch before being swarmed by Team Penske crewmembers. A brief pig pile ensued, before NASCAR officials were able to separate the combatants. Busch emerged with a bloody cut over his right eye, and was treated and released at the track’s Infield Care Center.

Asked if any punches were landed, Logano quipped, "Not on me. There wasn’t much talking, (but) there was a lot of swinging. (Usually) you just talk about it, but he wasn’t in a talking mood. He was in a fighting mood and I don’t back away from conflict.”

He also offered his take on the final-lap tangle, saying, “I was racing hard there at the end. He tried to take me down into the corner underneath Brad (and) about crashed on entry. I was still trying to gather it up by the center, and I was going to spin out. I'm trying to chase it up (the race track) and he was there.

"It was nothing intentional, but obviously, he thinks that,” said Logano. “I understand his frustration. He crashed. The same thing could have happened into (Turn 3) with what he did to me. Kyle and I usually race well together and don't have any issues. We'll move on.”

Not surprisingly, Busch had a polar-opposite view, saying simply, "I got dumped. (Logano) flat-out just drove straight in the corner and wrecked me. That's how Joey races.”

Busch also promised revenge, saying, “He's going to get it."

Neither Busch nor Logano are built for brawling. Neither man tips the scales at more than 140 pounds, and while the bantamweight tandem might be equally matched in a man-to-man scuffle, the addition of a half-dozen heavyweight crewmembers ensures a one-sided beat down like the one seen in Sin City Sunday.

And that is where NASCAR needs to step in, authoring an NHL-style “third man in” rule to prevent personal animosity from turning into a Jets vs. Sharks rumble, straight out of West Side Story.

While it’s understandable for crewmen to “have their driver’s back” in times of trouble, situations like Sundays often end up pitting a single combatant against a larger number of adversaries. The results are predictable, as Busch’s bloodied forehead will attest.

Fisticuffs aren’t common in NASCAR. Like bench-clearing brawls in baseball, they are the exception, rather than the rule. Unfortunately, video footage of the latest NASCAR imbroglio ran on all the network morning shows Monday; shows that had no problem omitting all mention of race winner Martin Truex, Jr., or the last-lap pass that sent him to Victory Lane.

Perhaps it’s time for NASCAR to take crewmembers out of the mix, levying suspensions and hefty monetary fines on anyone who wades into a driver-on-driver dustup.

In most instances, the lack of backup may prompt angry drivers to talk it out, rather than slug it out. And if fisticuffs do ensue, at least it’ll be a fair fight, allowing the wheelmen to settle their own scores.

Will Busch follow through on his promise to exact revenge? Only time will tell. Any comment made by an angry driver -- mere moments after climbing from the seat of a demolished race car – should be taken with at least a grain of salt.

Perhaps Busch will cool his jets in the next few days, arriving at Phoenix International Raceway with a calmer, “let it go” point of view.

If he doesn’t, however, it’s only a matter of time before another donnybrook breaks out. And NASCAR needs to be prepared.


  1. Will NASCAR be consistent and fine Kyle Busch, place him on probation as with the truck race fight/dance last season or just let it go. Will NASCAR say they don't condone fighting? Will NASCAR and or the Las Vegas Motor Speedway use the video of said fight to promote the sport and two up coming races at the track in 2018?

    Is this the "new' and "mature" Kyle Busch that Darrell Waltrip speaks of during the broadcast? If so I do not see it. He is the same child who wrecked Ron Hornaday out of a championship because he did not like being passed.

    Be consistent NASCAR and suspend Kyle Busch!

    1. Anonymous11:46 AM

      In spite of your one-sided view of the situation, Joey seems to create a dust up every season with one of his ex-teammates. His 'no blows landed' comment was pure BS also as the camera clearly showed Busch landing a punch to his face. NASCAR needs to get in Joey's 'grill' and warn him now before the season gets out of control,because when Kyle promises payback, it comes without fail. Matt kenseth happily sat out two races extracting revenge on Joey. kyle may be willing to do the same. Only time will tell.

    2. "TheNASCARJeff"? Dude change your name since your attitude is why the sport is in trouble to begin with! What we saw on the track and after the race is exactly what the sport has been missing for far too long! We saw aggressive driving fighting for position and oh-by-the-way, if Kyle wouldn't had gone low he would have punted slowing Brad right into the wall but instead he brushes child Joey who has to step on the throttle a turn later to "get even". Like I said aggressive driving, no problems! And the reaction afterwards, no problems either, passion has been stymied for way too long!

  2. Dave, we don't always agree (and how boring would that be), but you hit this one spot on. And, I'll even give that it's one thing to get between drivers and prevent the violence, but another thing altogether to pile up on the opposing individual like on Sunday.

    1. Kyle knew we was entering a hornet's nest but, he felt he was done wrong and wanted to do something about it! He took the risk of what eventually happened to him but, he made his point known! NASCAR needs to chalk the whole think up to aggressive driving going for position and live up to their "Boys have at it" policy for what happened in the pits! We need more aggressive driving and driver passion!

    2. Anonymous6:19 AM

      The Logano question? Why is that? I think for sure they feel he is an easy mark to "make their case" masking their own driving that doesn't always work out for them, cause fans are well, often times just stupid. Don't you think they are going for their perceived 'easy points" that they feel will make them feel better, not to mention the press they feel they get, citing Logano as the most horrible driver ever, despite the YOUTUBE video history! That was a racing deal, like him or Kyle, hate him and Kyle..fact.

  3. Anonymous10:37 AM

    You are right Dave how many big guys does it take to beat a driver. They may not have jumped in if the driver had been Carl Edwards. Five on one is not a fair fight.

  4. Anonymous10:54 AM

    So two drivers start fighting with only crew members around (no NASCAR officials). So they are supposed to stand by and watch the fight and not make any effort to break them up? Remember, it's very hard to tell when someone is initially diving in to try to break things up and then get sucked into the fray. And if there are no officials there, is anyone supposed to try to break it up?
    It's not as black and white as you make it appear. In hockey fights always take place in the limited area of the ice rink and there are always officials on the ice. It's a little more wide open in NASCAR.

  5. Anonymous11:21 AM

    My take was that Joey knew the #2 car was limping along at 3/4 speed before Kyle did. He knew he could run a pick play on Kyle using the #2 car and he did, except that Kyle tried a squeeze to the low side to avoid it. When Joey recovered from that contact he went into a rage and drove full speed up out of the corner until he could both nail Kyle and use Kyle's car to prevent his own crash. Both drivers were far too aggressive with three cars way ahead of them on the final lap, but that part is just racing. Just like with Matt Kenseth in 2015 and the announcers went wild to tell us it was just one of those racing deals and Joey did the right thing under the circumstances. The media need to realize that Joey does not have many fans and call it like it is when he gets himself into on track altercations. Kyle, like Matt, decided he had to settle the score himself because NASCAR will do nothing about it after the race. The eventual consequence is that Joey and/or Kyle will get a serious injury on track, because of dirty driving. And that will be what will be bad for the sport.

  6. Scott Millican11:55 AM

    So, the answer is to take the crew out of the equation and allow one driver to walk in and sucker punch the other? Because that is exactly what would have happened. Joey was standing there expecting a conversation and Kyle was intent on not talking but taking a swing at him.

  7. How about a much simpler rule. Don't start it, if you aren't willing to take a beating. NASCAR shouldn't condone fist fights and a 3rd man rule implicitly condones them.

    Will it be a fair fight? Seems to me some drivers are a bit better at fighting than others and from this we get bullies.

  8. Maybe part of Kyle's anger was that next year Vegas will have a 2nd cup date when they can't fill the stands of the stand-alone event they already have. And poor Joey just put him over the edge when using him as a bump stop to get through the corner. I'm just bummed that Fox didn't have great coverage of the scrum that happened in the pits after the race. Everyone from the announcers to the concession stand workers knew that Kyle wasn't happy and was going to go after Joey in some form...too bad they couldn't get a camera on Kyle earlier.

    There were a lot of empty seats in Vegas. I guess NASCAR is ultimately interested in gaining revenue instead of running at tracks that put on great racing for the fans. The last lap pass and the fighting grabs the headlines but the rest of the race was kind of ho-hum. How many green flag passes for the lead were there? And the rest of the action highlights were generated by segment racing...not the venue. I hope Vegas can support 2 races because we appear to be stuck with it for a while.

  9. Anonymous2:43 PM

    They do need to keep the crews out of this. A riot could easily break out.

  10. Godfather,
    Why is there no outrage at the crew member caught on tape blatantly kicking Kyle? That person needs to have their card taken immediately.

    1. Anonymous10:50 AM

      Looks like you have plenty of outrage for something that didn't happen.

  11. Anonymous4:21 PM

    Moody's plan to save Kyle Bush from himself!

  12. passion has always been one of the major differences between racing and stick n ball sports, how ever when a jersey\uniform says M&M's and or Penzoil the driver no matter how wronged he feels he was has to consider the potential damage to the company paying the bills as a result of their actions,
    I love to watch races that feature Kyle Busch as many times as the TV announcers have stated Kyle is one of just a few drivers that can go 3 wide all by himself, in as much as the #22 crew was there to support Joey, I was disappointed the M&Ms crew was not there to help Kyle to see the bi$$er picture and help him calm down as he (stalked angrily towards Joey)after all as much as these two drivers run up front there would be many occasions for hard racing the next 30 or so race weekends. after all that's what we pay our money for drivers who race to beat the next guy.

  13. Anonymous4:42 PM

    Spot-on analysis of the situation. Crews should stay out of it, period, end of story. It should be "My name is Bennett and I ain't in it." If you are smart enough to get yourself into something, you should be smart enough to get yourself out of it. If the situation were reversed, each driver would've took the same action as the other. All of 'em need to shut up and race.

  14. This is a great rule, Mr. Moody.

    TV was unclear on the beginning of the fight, but most accounts said Kyle Busch started something (punches?) without talking first. The forehead scrape may have been from a crewman wrapping Busch's arms against his side to stop the fight, then going to the ground with him (probably an accident).

    I know I've used this technique when breaking up a fight from behind, and the fighter usually struggles to prevent it. We both end up on the ground, but the fight's over.

  15. Now Dave, I respect you, but was the crew not to protect their driver? As has happened so many times in the past? Or should they just back down and let happen, what could happen? I didn't see the crew doing anything different than say, Wallace and Waltrip crews back in some other day.
    I don't think it was a beat down as KB kept fighting even when Nascar Officials were trying to get him out of there. He was fighting them as well. Don't you think he was doing the same thing when the crew members were trying to do the same?

  16. What a lot of you are missing is Monster don't care if they fight. They like it rough and tumble, which has been gone for at least a generation in Nascar. Sure keep the crews out of it unless both crews are fighting. Look times are different now but in some ways turning back time is not a bad idea. The reason most drivers acted right years ago is because they didn't want to face the aftermath. How many stories have we heard with the line "you didn't want to wreck so in so because he would be waiting on you after the race. Let'em fight it won't last long, they will learn who not to mess with and we will get to see a clown show once in a while, like the two knuckleheads in the truck race last year. And if they look that dorky, they will be to embarrassed to do it again. Quit complaining you wanted change!

  17. Anonymous1:19 PM

    This isn't the NBA where guys were leaving the bench and running across the court to jump into a fight (with a rule in place now to stop it). This is one guy losing his cool and running into another pit swinging his fists.

    Seems like a self-policing situation to me. And a simple one to correct since it's only a problem when someone goes and starts a fight. The 22 crew didn't all run to Kyle's car, drag him out, and start beating him down. He went to them. And got what exactly what everyone on God's green earth knew was coming to him when he got there.

    He created the problem. The problem resolved itself. A lesson should have been learned going forward. If not, the problem will resolve itself next time. Like a slow-learning dog and a squirt bottle. After enough squirts in the face, or whacks on the nose with a newspaper, they'll eventually get it and stop doing what's causing them to get their butts kicked in another driver's area.

    You were against the stupid lugnut rule, but you think this self-inflicted and self-correcting situation needs a rule?