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NASCAR Texas postscript

by Dave Grayson
Wednesday, November 09, 2011

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Massive empty seats overshadowed the NASCAR Sprint Race Sunday
Getty Images for NASCAR
Only in the state of Texas could a story about someone watching a NASCAR Sprint Cup race turn out to be bigger than a story about someone who won a NASCAR Sprint Cup race. When the brake dust settled at the Texas Motor Speedway, we eventually noticed that there were significant changes in two of NASCAR's championship profiles. Oh yeah, a Sprint Cup champion wants NASCAR to set up a boxing ring after their races are over. With those thoughts in mind, let's begin with:

THUMBS-UP to "Smoke" for once again smoking the competition en route to winning the A A A Texas 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway. The red hot Tony Stewart won his fourth race of the year and 43d of his career. Of even greater importance, Stewart trimmed the Chase points lead held by Carl Edwards, who finished second in the race, to a slim three points. With only two Chase events remaining on the schedule, this championship run is likely going to be settled during the final laps of the final race of the season.

THUMBS-UP to Carl Edwards for meeting Tony Stewart on pit road after the race to shake his hand and congratulate the race winner. It was a very classy thing to do.

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Okay, let's get to it: the story that every NASCAR fan is talking about this week and the Texas sized story that turned out to be bigger than who won the race and the state of the Chase championship.

Kyle Busch enters NASCAR trailer
Getty Images for NASCAR
WHAT'S-UP with Kyle Busch for, once again, allowing his lack of anger management to completely over ride his overall lack of common sense and maturity? On lap 14, of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Ron Hornaday Jr was passing a lapped vehicle when his truck became loose and accidentally made contact with Busch. Both of their trucks  grazed the backstretch wall. With the caution flag out, an incensed Busch pushed Hornaday's truck to the edge of turn four where he turned him. Hornaday slammed hard into the retaining wall and wound up with a destroyed truck.

Also destroyed were Hornaday's better than good chances of winning the series championship for the fifth time. He went from 15 points away from the lead to 48 points away after suffering a 34th place finish at Texas.

WHAT'S-UP with Kyle Busch not heeding the warning of his spotter who did all he could to stop his driver from wrecking Hornaday? The replay of their radio transmission said: "calm down dude, focus now, it's all good, calm down dude, stay off of him, DAMN IT !"

WHAT'S-UP with the typical Kyle Busch insolence displayed during the post wreck television interview? He had to have at least some basic idea that he was out of line.

THUMBS-UP to NASCAR for immediately parking Busch after the wreck and calling him to their trailer.

THUMBS-UP to Hornaday for showing up at the NASCAR trailer, without a summons, to inform officials that if they didn't bench Kyle Busch he would buy into a Sprint Cup ride with Tommy Baldwin Racing and make sure that Busch didn't finish a race for the rest of the year. He also informed NASCAR that Busch lived very close to his house, in North Carolina, and he would be visiting him the following Monday morning.

WHAT'S-UP with NASCAR suspending Busch from participating in their Nationwide and Sprint Cup events at Texas? Busch drives in those series for Joe Gibbs Racing who had nothing to do with what happened during the truck race. In that event Busch was driving a Toyota Truck fielded by his self owned team: Kyle Busch Motorsports.

I would have much preferred to see the punishment being placed directly on the Busch owned team. It would have been far better to suspend Busch from participating in the final series race and perhaps even the first few races of 2012. That would have hit Busch where it hurts the most: the wallet.

WHAT'S-UP with Coach Gibbs being put into the tough position of having to explain all of this to his team sponsors when, once again, this incident had nothing to do with Gibbs Racing?

THUMBS-UP for Mars Candy, the primary sponsor for Busch's Sprint Cup team, who issued a public statement expressing disdain for their driver's behavior. The statement concluded with: "we hold those who represent our brand to a higher standard." Good luck with that guys.

Speaking of public statements, WHAT'S-UP with that carefully worded statement, allegedly from Busch, apologizing to everyone for his behavior. We all know the work of a corporate spin doctor when we see it

THUMBS-UP to Busch for asking his Sprint Cup crew chief, Dave Rogers, to call a team meeting so he could talk to his guys and personally apologize to them. He also asked the team if they minded if he sat on the pit box to be with them for the rest of the weekend. It's was speculated, by the television broadcast team, that it must have been difficult for Busch to sit there and watch Denny Hamlin and Michael McDowell drive his race cars. Good, it may turn out to be the wakeup call this driver needs.

THUMBS-UP to NASCAR officials who, the following Monday morning, fined Busch $50,000 and placed him on probation for the remainder of the year. They also warned Busch that any further misbehavior of this kind could result in an indefinite suspension.

THUMBS-UP for driver/team owner Kevin Harvick who won the truck race. Harvick and Busch has had their share of bad moments in the past. The sight of Harvick celebrating in the Texas victory lane could not have set well with Busch. But WHAT'S-UP with Harvick having to cover the cost of repairing Hornaday's destroyed truck which he also owns?

THUMBS-UP to Harvick for a wonderful "Twitter" message that he sent after the race which read: "Great night for 2 truck !! Just watched the race replay and saw what I already knew: Kyle Busch is a bitch."

THUMBS-UP for Kevin Harvick Inc for clinching the truck series' Owners Points Championship with his fourth win of the season. This is yet something else he can hold over the heads of Kyle Busch Motorsports. THUMBS-UP to Harvick for helping Chevrolet clinch the series' Manufacturer's Championship. Their 14 series wins this year led to their seventh title.

THUMBS-UP for a terrific statement made by Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage who said "I was angry when I saw the crash. I told our guys that if the wall is damaged or going to have to be replaced, we're sending the bill to Kyle, because if something happens in a race that damages the wall, that's part of the price of business. But do something deliberate and cost us tens of thousands of dollars, and I'm going to send him a bill. I love him, but there are some things where you cross the line." This is exactly why everyone loves Eddie Gossage.

THUMBS-UP to Tony Stewart's suggestion that said NASCAR should set up a boxing ring in the pits after the race so drivers could settle their differences there instead of on the track.

WHAT'S-UP with the bad luck that killed the series championship hopes of James Buescher? His Turner Motorsports truck ran out of gas with three laps left in the race. A second place finish turned into a 19th place finish. He fell from second to third in the standings and is now 28 points from the top.

THUMBS-UP for Austin Dillon whose second place finish at Texas may have easily locked up the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship. He's now 20 points ahead of Johnny Sauter and only needs a 16th place, or better, finish at the final race of the season.

THUMBS-UP to Trevor Bayne for winning the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas for Roush Fenway Racing. It marked the young driver's first series win.

THUMBS-UP for Bayne's win helping Ford to clinch the series Manufacturer's Championship.

Finally, a GOD BLESS to NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Elliott Sadler, and his lovely wife Amanda, who welcomed their second child, Austyn Rose Sadler, who was born this past Monday morning. The beautiful new baby and her family are reported to be doing just fine.

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