Bill Fleischman: Almost as much feudin' as racin' in NASCAR
ANOTHER WEEK, another NASCAR feud. Seems I've written this lead a lot recently (see Ryan Newman-Juan Pablo Montoya; Kevin Harvick-Kyle Busch).
ANOTHER WEEK, another NASCAR feud. Seems I've written this lead a lot recently (see
Ryan Newman-Juan Pablo Montoya; Kevin Harvick-Kyle Busch
This time, it's Richard Childress-Kyle Busch. Earlier this week, Childress, a longtime NASCAR team owner, was fined $150,000 by NASCAR and placed on probation until Dec. 31.
Childress was found guilty by NASCAR's justice ministers of putting Busch in a headlock and punching him after Saturday's truck series race at Kansas Speedway. Holy Hulk Hogan!
Childress objected to Busch's bumping a Childress-owned truck driven by Joey Coulter on the cooldown lap. Childress also owns Harvick's team.
AARP note: Childress is 65; Busch is 26. Maybe Childress should win AARP's Man of the Year Award for being fit enough to punch a younger man.
The one-sided Childress-Busch altercation has been the hot topic all week among motorsports journalists and analysts. Some think Childress also should have been suspended for a few weeks. Some think the fine was too light.
Others wonder why Busch didn't retaliate. Ah, just what Busch, one of the most polarizing figures in NASCAR, needs, punching out a senior citizen.
NASCAR exonerated Busch of any blame in the incident. To his credit, Childress took full responsibility.
"I am a very principled person and have a passion for what we do at Richard Childress Racing," he said. "I believe passionately in defending my race teams . . . In this instance, I let that passion and my emotions get the best of me."
Childress is a popular figure in NASCAR. He has been around forever (he finished fifth in the second Cup race at Pocono in 1975). The late Dale Earnhardt won six Cup series titles driving for Childress.
I agree that, in addition to the hefty fine, Childress should have been suspended for a few weeks. Drivers physically challenging other drivers is crazy enough. An owner attacking a driver is over the line.
That said, I haven't spoken with Childress, but I wouldn't be surprised if, while he's writing the check, he's smiles and thinks, "It was worth it."
Following the Harvick-Kyle Busch incident at Darlington last month, when Harvick parked his car at the entrance to pit road, climbed out and threw a punch at Busch still sitting in his car, I asked NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison how drivers settled disputes during his career. Allison was in the middle of the renowned 1979 Daytona fight with Cale Yarborough.
"The deal with Kyle and Kevin, and whoever gets upset along the way, confirms that we're human," Allison said. "We have human weaknesses that we respond, sometimes in the wrong way, to some of these things. Bottom line, in my mind, it can't be all bad. It proves we're sincere. It proves we're out there giving it 100 percent, and the fans can feel good about that."
It's that time of year when Cup teams start making major changes, as they try to get into contention for the Chase for the Championship before it's too late.
Martin Truex Jr. will have a new crew chief for Sunday's Cup race at Pocono. Chad Johnson replaces veteran crew chief Pat Tryson, who was in his second season with Truex. Tryson, from Malvern, has been assigned other duties at Michael Waltrip Racing.
A few weeks ago, several crew members were replaced on Truex' No. 56 Toyota team. Truex, from Mayetta, N.J., is a disappointing 22nd in points. Johnson, 31, has been the lead engineer for Truex' team.
Over at Stewart-Haas Racing, technical director Matt Borland is replacing Bobby Hutchens as vice president of competition. Borland is a former crew chief for Ryan Newman at Penske Racing.
Tony Stewart, eighth in points, praised Hutchens' work for much of the first 2 years of Stewart-Haas Racing. After winning seven races the past two seasons, Stewart is winless this year.
Stewart and Formula One racer Lewis Hamilton are swapping cars Tuesday for practice joy rides at Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Russell Newberry, from the Discovery Channel's "Deadliest Catch," will be the honorary starter Saturday night at Grandview Speedway. Newberry will meet fans before the United Racing Club sprint and NASCAR 358 modified races at the track, a one-third mile oval in Bechtelsville, Berks County, north of Pottstown.
Kirsten Sowers, 11, of Blue Bell, will sing the national anthem. She and Newberry are raising funds for 1,500 military personnel to attend a Bruce Springsteen concert.
Stewart, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano will play themselves in the June 26 episode of "The Glades" on A&E. They were not on the season debut last Sunday night.
THIS WEEK'S RACE
5-hour Energy 500, Pocono Raceway
Long Pond, Pa.
When: Sunday, 1 p.m.
TV/Radio: TNT/WNPV (1440-AM)
Race course: 2.5-mile tri-oval
Race distance: 200 laps
Race forecast: Showers, 70 degrees
Last year's winner: Denny Hamlin
Last year's pole winner: Kyle Busch, 169.485 mph
Track qualifying record: Kasey Kahne, 172.533 mph (June 2004)
Track facts: Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon are tied for the most Pocono wins (4) among full-time active drivers. Hamlin has won two of the last three Pocono races. In winning last year, Hamlin led the last 16 laps (total of 88). Kyle Busch was second, Tony Stewart was third . . . In a change from prior years, the order for qualifying will be based on speeds in tomorrow's first practice session, not the combined sessions. Qualifying starts Saturday at 11:10 a.m. . . . Sam Hornish Jr. will attempt to qualify for his first Cup race of the year at Pocono in the No. 38 Ford. The former IndyCar champion is replacing Travis Kvapil, who will be racing in the truck series at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night. Hornish is 26th in Nationwide Series points (only five starts) after three unsuccessful seasons in Cup . . . Jason Lee, star of TNT's "Memphis Beat," will be grand marshal for the race.
Wins: Kevin Harvick, 3; Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth, 2 each; Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Trevor Bayne, Regan Smith, Brad Keselowski, 1 each.
SPRINT CUP STANDINGS (Through 13 of 36 races)
1. Carl Edwards 485
2. Jimmie Johnson 445
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 444
4. Kevin Harvick 442
5. Kyle Busch 425
6. Kurt Busch 414
7. Matt Kenseth 412
8. Tony Stewart 393
9. Clint Bowyer 391
10. Ryan Newman 382
11. Denny Hamlin 381
12. Greg Biffle 377
13. Jeff Gordon 364
14. Mark Martin 357
15. Juan Montoya 357
16. A.J. Allmendinger 352
17. David Ragan 344
18. Kasey Kahne 339
19. Marcos Ambrose 338
20. Paul Menard 331
Up next: Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400, June 19, Michigan International Speedway, Brooklyn, Mich., 1 p.m.; TV: TNT; last year's winner: Denny Hamlin.