NASCAR fines Kyle Busch $50,000
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- NASCAR on Monday fined Kyle Busch $50,000 and placed him on probation through the rest of the year for his retaliatory actions during Friday night's Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.
The penalty came on the heels of the Joe Gibbs Racing driver being parked for Saturday's Nationwide Series race and Sunday's Sprint Cup race at TMS.
NASCAR in issuing the penalty said that if Busch does anything else this season that the governing body considers detrimental to stock car racing or NASCAR, "or is disruptive to the orderly conduct of an event,'' he will be suspended immediately from NASCAR.
NASCAR lifted the parking directive on Monday, allowing Busch to compete in this weekend's races at Phoenix International Raceway.
There was no immediate response from JGR or Busch, who intentionally wrecked championship contender Ron Hornaday Jr. on lap 14 under caution. Busch still could face disciplinary actions from JGR and his sponsor, Mars Inc.
JGR officials are still discussing if further action is required, a team spokesman said Tuesday.
Busch apologized to his Cup team on Sunday and sat on the pit box during the race. On Saturday night, Busch issued an open letter to the media apologizing to fans, his sponsors, Hornaday and his team, as well as everybody associated with Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch Motorsports.
"I understand why I was taken out of the car for the rest of the weekend. NASCAR officials had to act, and I accept their punishment and take full responsibility for my actions," Busch wrote. "As a racecar driver, the hardest thing to do is to sit on the sidelines listening to cars on the track when you know you should be out there competing. For this, I have no one to blame but myself."
NASCAR president Mike Helton delivered Busch's initial penalty Saturday morning after a meeting with Busch and Joe Gibbs, who owns Busch's Cup and Nationwide cars.
"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," Helton said. "And as annoying as the comments that I've made personally in the past about we'll know it when we see it might have been, we saw it last night."
Busch became the first driver since Gordon in August of 2007 to be taken out of a Cup race for actions in another NASCAR race the same weekend. Harvick, who owns Hornaday's truck, was parked for the Cup race at Martinsville in 2002 after an incident in the truck race.
Busch was replaced in the Cup race by Michael McDowell, who finished 33rd. By not participating Busch dropped to 11th in the Chase standings, 100 points out of the lead.
Harvick, who was placed on probation along with Busch earlier this year after a pit road run-in at Darlington with the JGR driver, was among several drivers who called for an end to retaliation on the track that heated up a week earlier at Martinsville.
"Whether it's Kyle Busch or anybody else,'' Harvick said. "This is not late model racing. I mean, this is professional stock car racing. We all make mistakes. We all do things sometimes out of character. You know if things continue to progress, we're going to hurt somebody."
Busch pushed Hornaday into the wall on the 14th of 148 laps when Busch retaliated for contact as they went three-wide just before the caution. NASCAR immediately parked Busch after meeting with him briefly after that race before telling him to come back Saturday morning.
"I lost my cool, no doubt about it. I've been wrecked four weeks in a row, and I've had enough of it, and I retaliated," Busch said after the wreck Friday night. "So it's certainly my fault for doing that. If everybody wants to say, 'Hornaday is racing for a championship, roll over,' that's not my fashion. That's not anybody else's fashion out here."
Hornaday dropped from third to fourth in points, his deficit increasing from 15 to 48 with only one race left.
After the race, Hornaday said he'd be "really upset" if NASCAR didn't park Busch. He also said he'd be at Busch's house Monday morning if NASCAR didn't handle the situation.
Mars Inc., a primary sponsor for Busch's Cup car, condemned their driver's behavior in a statement on Sunday.
"The recent actions demonstrated by Kyle Busch are not consistent with the values of Mars, Incorporated and we are very disappointed," the news release said. "We do not condone this behavior and expect those who represent our company and brands to abide by the same values our company stands for. We have expressed our strong concerns directly to Joe Gibbs Racing."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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