The Frontstretch: Emotion Equals Power: There's Something To Be Said For Childress' Outburst At Kansas by Bryan Davis Keith -- Tuesday June 7, 2011

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The ranks of NASCAR might be short on attendance, sponsor dollars, entries, etc., but the same can’t be said for emotional outbursts. Drivers berating their crews and their teams. Drivers fighting drivers. And now, owners fighting drivers.

Listen to the many PR machines operating in the realm of major league stock car racing, and each and every one of these episodes were regrettable lapses in judgment, lapses in control. Examples of the stress of this sport getting to professionals. Richard Childress wasted no time making that clear after NASCAR levied monetary fines and probation against the longtime owner on Monday, stating, “I let my passion and my emotions get the best of me. I accept the penalty NASCAR announced today.” Big surprise there, for a fine and probation is about as much a slap on the wrist as Stephen Garcia getting suspended from football… for the spring.

But while Childress’ remarks are exactly what NASCAR and the big-time corporate backers of Richard Childress Racing’s many teams wanted to hear, one can’t help but wonder if Childress’ actions in the Truck garage on Saturday afternoon were in fact more calculated (and not just because of eyewitness accounts claiming that he removed his watch before confronting Busch). After all, letting emotions go wild is proving to be an effective tactic across the sport’s garage.

Martin Truex, Jr. went on a profane tirade aimed at his pit crew after errors cost the team a shot at the win at Richmond earlier this spring, effectively firing his entire crew over the team radio even before the checkered flag fell that Saturday night. It wasn’t a week before Michael Waltrip Racing announced a drastic pit crew realignment for the No. 56 team. Performance improved; Truex posted back-to-back top-10 results. In the four races prior to the swap, Truex’s average finish was 28.75… in the four races since, it’s 16.0. And the pit crew, of course, hasn’t been a subject of conversation at all.

Kurt Busch’s tantrums over the radio throughout this spring made Truex’s look tame, and they went on for weeks. From Texas on, the senior driver in the Penske Racing camp tore his team and organization to shreds for hours every race day, to the point that the driver had to make a public statement that he would stop swearing and attacking his team over the radio. The results? Penske Racing started sending more engineers to the race track. Brad Keselowski races into the All-Star Race, wins the pole for the 600 and wins the Cup race at Kansas. Busch is right there with his teammate, scoring a top 5 in the 600 and the pole at Kansas. Now, with two more horsepower tracks and a return to Daytona (where the elder Busch was the class of the field during Speedweeks) among the next month’s worth of races, Penske Racing has found their stride at a most opportune time.

The pattern of brash, raw emotional actions bearing fruit for struggling Cup teams is not something unique to 2011, either. When the No. 29 team was lagging behind the upper echelon of the Cup garage, his self-owned No. 33 NNS entry continually struggling on pit road and rumors flying that Kevin Harvick was out the door on his way to Stewart-Haas Racing, his continual barrage of criticism towards his crew, his organization, and his situation large gave way to a Cup team that was a title contender in 2010. It has also turned his Nationwide Series operation into one of only a handful of cars capable of keeping up with Joe Gibbs Racing’s vaunted Toyotas.

Such behavior even benefited the most calculated and collected team NASCAR has to offer… the five-time defending Cup champions. With the No. 48 pit crew failing on the job as Denny Hamlin stormed his way to victory at Texas last November, Chad Knaus took the unprecedented step of benching his entire crew mid-race. It was a ruthless, impulsive move that absolutely no one in attendance could even fathom. Yet two weeks later, Jeff Gordon’s pit crew was celebrating Jimmie Johnson’s fifth consecutive Cup.

This is an emotional sport. And with as much talent as there is, filling the field week after week intangibles truly can and do make a difference more often than not. That said, who can blame Richard Childress for deciding to play the emotions card and go full bore at what can only be considered a menace to his race team?

After all, it wasn’t but a month ago that Busch ran over Kevin Harvick’s car at Darlington… twice. And that was payback motivated for an incident that had taken place at Homestead nearly six months ago. Rowdy’s got no problem keeping score. There is also something to be said about a driver giving love taps after the checkered flag flew… while on probation, just as Busch did to RCR prospect Joey Coulter.

Childress has been around this sport a long time, both before and after Brian France. These aren’t the days where a meeting with Bill France would whip even the most hardheaded competitors into line. Nowadays, when NASCAR decides to hold a meeting, the competitors keep right on fighting, even in the principal’s office. Just ask Juan Pablo Montoya, who reportedly took a haymaker from Ryan Newman during NASCAR-sponsored peace talks.

Knowing that, Childress is fully aware that NASCAR putting Busch on probation is about as much a slap on the wrist as Ohio State Buckeyes being suspended for the season openers a year later, but cleared to play in the Sugar Bowl. And proportionally, it doesn’t seem to have deterred Busch’s post-race aggression a bit… after all, he went after Coulter because he was passed in a hard but clean last-lap move. Imagine if Coulter had spun him out.

NASCAR has no control of this sport anymore. The finances suck, the future is uncertain, and the boys are more than having at it. That being said, an owner that’s been around for a very long time, is fully aware of the power that emotions play in this sport, and knows a problem when he sees one. So instead of playing it safe and going to the referees with his concerns, he rolled up his sleeves and took care of business. All it cost him was some pocket change and that same slap on the wrist that did anything but deter Mr. Busch this past weekend.

If that works out for Childress like it has for Johnson, Harvick, Truex and all of Penske Racing, Kyle Busch may well play nice with his drivers come Pocono.

The Frontstretch Newsletter, back in 2014 gives you more of the daily news, commentary, and racing features from your favorite writers you know and love. Don’t waste another minute – click here to sign up now. We’re here to make sure you stay informed … so make sure you jump on for the ride!

Today on the Frontstretch:
Did You Notice? … Breaking Down A Sprint Cup Season Eight Races In
Beyond the Cockpit: Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on Growing Up Racing and Owner Loyalties
The Frontstretch Five: Flaws Exposed In the New Chase So Far
NASCAR Writer Power Rankings: Top 15 After Darlington
NASCAR Mailbox: Past Winners Aren’t Winning …. Yet
Open Wheel Wednesday: How Can IndyCar Stand Out?


©2000 - 2008 Bryan Davis Keith and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Carl D.
06/07/2011 07:37 AM

“…a fine and probation is about as much a slap on the wrist as Stephen Garcia getting suspended from football…for the the spring.”

NIce reference to other “5-time”, as in “Five times suspended but still coddled by the ‘ol ball coach”.

What Childress did was wrong, but sometimes the wrong thing happens to the right guy. I wish I’d seen it.

06/07/2011 07:52 AM

It was an owner vs owner as Kyle owns his truck, wish I could pay his fine.

Ghost of Curtis Turner
06/07/2011 08:12 AM

I love how the lame stream media has glossed over the facts. RC did not go over with the intentions of kicking KB butt. It was only after Kyle (the golden boy of brian france) Busch told Richard Childres “Don’t worry about it Old Man.” that sent Richard off. Kyle got what he deserved a good old fasion a$$ woopin. Funny thing is how none of Kyle’s Team went to his aid????
Score one for the “Old Man”.
Maybe Richard should have a taken a page out of Jeff Gordon’s book and waitied for Kyle in the airport. Then it would all have just been a rumour and NA$CAR could have just issued one of it’s infamous secret fines.
I hope someone puts up a help Richard Childress with his fine website, I’d give him a few bucks toward this one.
Heck maybe Klye Petty should think about this one for a fund raiser for Victory Junction.
“For a $150,000 donation you get to take a few swings a Kyle Busch.” That would help send a whole bunch of deserving kids to camp.

06/07/2011 08:23 AM

How does everyone seem to know what Kyle’s intent was?

They BOTH raced each other clean for the last 10-15 laps and Joey did a slide job, if Kyle did not like this, why did he check up and not dump Joey then, Carl Edwards style?

Kyle gave Joey a tire rub on the backstretch, this could have been hey good job welcome to the truck series. Yes this could have been a show of displeasure, but I have seen everyone from Gordon and Johnson to Jeff Burton do a whole lot more showing their displeasure at another driver.

Kyle could have been impressed that the rookie raced him hard(like Kyle did as a rookie) and did not just fold. Just saying.

Alot of you talk like Richard totally whipped Kyle’s a$$, To me Kyle did not look any worse for wear Sunday in the interviews, must have been ONE HEII OF AN A$$ WHUPPIN.

Do not forget Harvick had more then a little to do with the Darlington incident.

06/07/2011 08:42 AM

i’m incensed. another example of how two faced nascar is. what rc did was criminal, plain and simple. A clear case of premeditated assault and since contact was made.. battery. if it were any of us on the giving end we’d be in jail. don’t say you want to rid the “product” of the hillbilly redneck image if you’re actions show that you embrace and cultivate it. Another thought if you will, 150k may be the least of what rc has to pay after kyle gets his payback. have at it boys and old men.

phil h
06/07/2011 10:54 AM

wonder what would have happened if the owner was Robby Gordon? Since it was Childress,with a 4 car team,he gets a $150,000.00 fine. Bet if it would have been Robby,with just a 1 car operation,he would have been suspended at least one race,plus $150,000.00.It’s all politics with Nascar,depends on who the offender is,as to what the punishment will be.

06/07/2011 12:13 PM

It is funny to note that it appears the ONLY people upset with Richard Childress are the ones so famously named by a certain past Gov. of Calif……SISSY_MEN!!! Men will be men and fight once in awhile, the rest of you go get your teddy bear and hide behind Mommies skirt!!

06/07/2011 12:39 PM

While I don’t necessarily agree that RC’s actions were the right thing to do – kudos to him for putting that crybaby on the mat for a round. Kyle talks a huge game and occasionally it comes back around to bite you in the a$$. Or in the face!!!! So keep it up Kyle! KB’s punishment will be facing the drivers over the next couple of weeks – I’m sure their comments will be positive and inspirational!!!!!
NASCAR’s only regret is that it’s not on video for use as promos.

Bill S.
06/07/2011 12:55 PM

Of course, wcfan and Babydufus are right on both counts. Kyle checked up to AVOID hitting Joey Coulter when Coulter started to slide into him on the last lap. Dickie should have thanked Kyle. A little fender damage on the cool-down lap? Was that worth 150k? Even my dealer does not charge that much for auto body work!

Furthermore, what Richard did was a criminal act, pure and simple. In any other sport, he would have been restrained by security and hauled off by the cops for assaulting an opposing player outside the locker room.

As for “real men,” it is sissy men who try (emphasis on try) to use their fists in a dispute. It takes more manliness and courage to stand up to it or walk away.

NASCAR’s downfall is that it continues to cater to the redneck, knuckle-dragging mentality of the 1960 South. This is the 21st century and the world is passing NASCAR by, big time.

Conversely, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, a Spaniard and a Swiss, have more fans than all of NASCAR drivers combined, make more money, live like rock stars, and RESPECT each other. And no doubt, have their choice of women. Too bad they are not manly enough for the trailer trash that support Richard Childress and his kind.

And oh, by the way, because of these MEN, tennis is on a huge uptick after a long hibernation, just at the time NASCAR is failing. Nice.

old farmer
06/07/2011 01:41 PM

One can only hope that Kyle’s car, truck, or whatever always finishes ahead of anything owned by Childress.

RC has proved that he’s an a**. And so’s his cup driver KH.

sylvia richardson
06/07/2011 02:38 PM

o its crying again for Richad. he can always go to work at a towel company. hes a cry baby and always has been

sylvia richardson
06/07/2011 02:41 PM

should have said. o its crying time again for big baby richard. he can always go to work for a towel company. hes always needed a towel.

Sharon J
06/07/2011 03:31 PM

Bill S.

Trailer Trash??? How rude to many Nascar fans.

06/07/2011 04:21 PM

Wow Bill S – what an enlightened viewpoint. We need many more fans like you………

06/07/2011 05:19 PM

Bottom line is all of this could have been avoided if Kyle hadn’t bumped Richard’s Truck almost causing the driver to lose control. Look at the replay, this was more than a “donut” on the side of the truck. And, I thought Kyle was on probation, so how is it you can bump the truck of the owner you was involved with at Darlington and nothing is your fault and your penalty is not increased? Again, we wouldn’t be talking about this if not for the actions of the spoiled, rich kid, brat who doesn’t have any respect for anyone.

old farmer
06/07/2011 05:48 PM

Larry and others: When is it that we blame the national debt, Al Quida (sp), the tornados, the volcanic eruptions and ensuing tidal waves, and all the other ills of the world on the Busch Brothers? Just curious.

Bill S.
06/07/2011 06:04 PM

I only said that NASCAR fans who support Childress’ assault and battery as some kind of positive action are trailer trash – and I stand by that.

no spin
06/07/2011 07:15 PM

‘what rc did was criminal, plain and simple’. where is the cops

06/07/2011 08:38 PM

Crazy, crazy people……………..

06/07/2011 09:02 PM

I’ve never seen such a bunch of delusional people! Busch fans truly are not walking around in reality!

You sissies have never been involved in a fight?! I guess you all just hide behind mommy’s skirt and hug that teddy bear tight! How do you look yourself in the mirror everyday? Sissies!

I feel bad for you.

06/07/2011 09:13 PM

I just like that fact that nowhere in RC’s statement was there an apology. He owned it to the level he needed to.

@Bill S.
My “trailer” sits at 1500’ASL, overlooking the San Juan Islands, the Cascade and Olympic mountains. Google the view. What’s your house look at?

06/07/2011 11:20 PM

Bill S.-

Nothing says “courage” like cursing out strangers in anonymity at home!

Childress has no need to apologize. There are few things worse than public figures apologizing since they’re only sorry they got caught.

06/08/2011 12:31 PM

if you don’t like it here.
You sure sound like a dumb ass Packer fan

06/08/2011 04:59 PM

Some of you “fans” are really sad. Good job RC!
Isn’t it amazing that so many of you “experts” claim to know “exactly” what happened as if you were actually there? You guys deserve King Brian as the head of your sport.

06/09/2011 03:12 PM

Old Farmer, I’m not blaming the Busch Brothers for that stuff you mentioned. But, I am blaming him for this mess because he was the one who bumped into Richard’s Truck after the race. Guess being on probation doesn’t mean you can’t do that since Nascar said Busch was not at fault. The fact is, Kyle is completely responsible for what happened between him and Richard and no logical person whether you’r a Kyle fan or not can deny that. The replay clearly shows Kyle bumping Richard’s Truck so there shouldn’t be no argument that Kyle is not guilty. And, any person with just a little common sense would know that sometimes you have to stand up for what you believe in and that’s exactly what Richard did. And remember this, Richard doesn’t have a history of being violant and looking for trouble or has been in trouble like Kyle had done pretty much on a regular basis for several years. How many times has Kyle been involved in controversy in the last two or three years? Just demostrates what kind of person you are dealing with. And, don’t forget about Kyle waiting at Denny’s Hauler last year to beat up on him for an on track event. Kyle is pretty funny, he wrecks and bumps other drivers on the track all the time but you had never ever touch him. He can dish it out but he can’t take it. These are facts not opinions. No way Kyle should have went without punishment in this event because he was the one who initiated it.