LONG POND, Pa. - Repentant yet defiant, Richard Childress broke his weeklong, self-imposed silence on Friday morning at Pocono Raceway.
Childress owned up to his actions following last Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway, when the 65-year-old team owner allegedly put Kyle Busch in a headlock and landed several punches on the 26-year-old driver.
That encounter happened after Busch, who was fined and placed on four weeks' probation as the result of an on-track altercation with Richard Childress Racing's Kevin Harvick in a Sprint Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway in May, bumped the fender of RCR driver Joey Coulter at the end of the truck race.
After investigating the recent incident, NASCAR slapped Childress with a $150,000 fine and placed him on probation through the end of the year, while Busch was not penalized.
"I take all the responsibility for my actions last week," said Childress, who spoke for less than two minutes and did not field questions. "I am very passionate about this sport, my race teams, our fans, and I let my emotions . . . come in front of my passion."
According to Childress, fans eager to help pay his fine sent money, and those donations will be directed toward the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma.
"I am going to pay [the $150,000 fine] personally," he said. "At least in a bad situation, something good will come out of it."
Childress held firm in his stance that the truck racing incident involving Busch and Coulter warranted some discipline directed toward Busch.
"I agreed that NASCAR should have done something with me," Childress said. "I don't agree that they didn't handle the situation that happened [between Busch and Coulter] on the cooldown lap."
Busch, who met the media later Friday morning, defended his "congratulatory bump" on Coulter's fender.
"I didn't feel like I hit him all that hard, I thought I just rubbed him a little bit," Busch said.
Coulter "did what he was supposed to do on the last lap," Busch said. "We were racing for fifth place, and I had two options, lift and let him beat me or crash the both of us."
Busch said that, as an owner in the truck series, he could understand Childress' concern over a damaged truck. "If [Childress] came to me and was so upset about it, I would have offered him money to fix it," Busch continued. "There was no malicious intent to be involved in damaging a RCR vehicle."
Busch claimed, much like Childress, that he had received financial support from fans following his dustup with Harvick last month. That money was funneled to the Kyle Busch Foundation.
Notes. Pocono Raceway owner Joseph Mattioli will head to Philadelphia on Wednesday to receive the Temple University Kornberg School of Dentistry Alumni Award. The award is in recognition of his business accomplishments and service to the local community since his graduation in 1952. . . . Beginning this weekend, NASCAR is tweaking its Sprint Cup Series qualifying procedure. The order for Saturday's qualifying session will be based on speeds - from slowest to fastest - posted in Friday's first practice session. Previously, both practice sessions were combined to determine the qualifying order.
Pocono: If You Go
The events: Pocono 200 ARCA Series race, Saturday, 1:30 p.m.; 5-hour Energy 500 Sprint Cup Series race, Sunday, 1 p.m.
The track: Pocono Raceway is on Route 115 in Long Pond, Pa. Take the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-476) to Exit 95. Take I-80 east toward Hazleton/Mount Pocono to Exit 284, head south on Route 115 for three miles.
Saturday's on-track events: Sprint Cup Series qualifying, 11:10 a.m.; Pocono 200 ARCA Series race, 1:30 p.m.
TV: Sprint Cup Series qualifying (Speed,
11:30 a.m.); Pocono 200 ARCA Series race (same-day delay, Speed, 8 p.m.).
Tickets: Call 800-722-3929 or check the tracks website at www.poconoraceway.com.
- Pete Schnatz