Doug Turnbull · Monday October 4, 2010
The season of “Have At It, Boys” in NASCAR took another turn Sunday at Kansas Speedway. Whether we’re talking about the “Carl v. Keselowski” airborne tumble at Atlanta or the numerous inter-team squabbles that have populated Sprint Cup storylines during the midpoint of this year, drivers have not been shy to display both on and off-track displeasure with each other. But for all the controversy their clashes created, each one occurred during the regular season and had no real Chase implications.
Sunday’s spat between Kyle Busch and David Reutimann did.
On Lap 52 in the Price Chopper 400, Busch was charging hard in the No. 18 and got impatient behind the No. 00 of Reutimann. Reutimann got a touch loose, and Busch tried to barge through the open door on the bottom of the track. In doing so, he nudged the left rear of the Aaron’s Toyota and spun Reutimann back-first into the wall, causing the race’s second caution. After experiencing damage in a crash with Ryan Newman in last week’s Dover race, that was the final straw for Reutimann, who was none too pleased with Busch’s choice of moves on the track.
So 102 laps after getting tagged by Busch, Reutimann attempted to take full advantage of being “It.” He tried to use his right front fender to hook Busch while both were in the upper grooves on the track. Instead of simply spinning him out off Turn 2, though, Reutimann shoved Busch’s left rear into the wall and then spun himself out through the grass. The end result wasn’t pretty; damage from this second round of spin and contact with his rival relegated Reutimann to 10 laps down and even farther out of contention than before. But while hurting himself, the goal was accomplished, as the No. 18 Toyota received extensive rear end damage, limping around the rest of the day en route to 21st.
Busch, of course, didn’t take kindly to Reutimann’s reaction, saying on the radio that if NASCAR didn’t park the No. 00, he and NASCAR would have to meet after the race. That didn’t happen, but Busch did offer insight on his take of “revenge gone wrong” after exiting his race car Sunday.
“It’s just really unfortunate, these guys worked their butts off to put ourselves in the Chase and do have an opportunity to go after a championship. To have it end up something like that today… The guy was loose. He said it on the radio, slid up off the bottom and I got into him unintentionally and just spun him out,” said an obviously frustrated title contender. “My fault, 100%. But then the retaliation, to a guy that’s in the Chase racing for something? He’ll be here next year. He could have wrecked me in any of the first 26 races next year. That could have been fine. But it’s just hard to swallow a day like today where we had a solid top-5 car going. [Crew chief] Dave [Rogers] did a phenomenal job getting us to where we were a top-5 car and we could run up front, chase them down. We had a really good car going and when we got hit there, it just bent everything under the rear end. We salvaged the best we could, but still were far off from where we could have been.”
So, Busch objected to the retaliation, mainly due to his being in the Chase and Reutimann’s not… which, by itself, is a semi-valid point. But did these circumstances draw apologies from a normally repentant Reutimann? Think again.
“I don’t care if you’re in the Chase or not. You need to think about who you’re running over when you’re running over them,” he said, minutes after dismounting from his Aaron’s Nightmare Machine. “I don’t care who you are. If you’re in the Chase, you have as much responsibility to drive with respect as I do, or anybody else.”
Busch has reason to be upset that Reutimann or any other driver would exact such revenge over a championship hopeful, because the contact the two had on the track very easily could have been incidental. But Busch’s reputation in such situations reflects the lack of respect that Reutimann speaks of. Just ask Todd Bodine . Busch is known for having little regard for the circumstances of others as he charges through the pack in any racing division – especially the cash-strapped Nationwide and Truck Series. He often has to start in the back in Truck races, due to missing a practice or other reasons, and drives like a bat out of Hell, taking unsponsored trucks three-wide in turns designed for two or, as Bodine pointed out in the above link, flat out spinning Jennifer Jo Cobb when she was holding him up. Busch also bullied his way through a CRA Super Series Late Model race at Lanier National Speedway in January, when he spun leader Casey Roderick, a local fan favorite, to take the lead late in that race.
Then, there is Busch’s history of revenge.
In the same Bristol race weekend that he spun Cobb, Busch took objection to Brad Keselowski’s use of the chrome horn to take the lead late in the Nationwide Series event. Instead of patiently chasing down the points leader in a series where he is not even running for the championship and then giving him the old bump and run, Busch yanked B.K.’s car around into the wall and it sustained significant damage. Keselowski later got caught up in another crash in traffic and lost even more points (although the NNS title has been in his pocket for months now), the “price he paid” for someone else’s trip to Victory Lane. Was Busch considerate of others then? Absolutely not.
In Kyle Busch’s post-race comments, he essentially demeaned David Reutimann, issuing a “How Dare He?” because someone outside the Chase bracket messed with a Chase driver. He went as far to say that he was the only one of the two actually racing for something, as if Reutimann isn’t competing to get the best result for his team, his fans, and his sponsors. Well, Reutimann sent a strong message right back: the rules of the road apply to everyone, not just the 12-man Chase fraternity. Busch applied a double standard to the situation Sunday in forgetting that he has been far less considerate of others’ situations — in all three NASCAR series — than Reutimann was to him. Should NASCAR have parked Reutimann? They did so to Carl Edwards after the Keselowski debacle at Atlanta in March. They did the same after David Gilliland retaliated against Juan Pablo Montoya at Texas Motor Speedway a couple of years ago. But Busch should not have been the one to call for NASCAR to take that action… because he has been guilty of even worse recklessness and inconsideration in the past.
Listen to Doug weekly on The Allan Vigil Ford Lincoln Mercury Speedshop racing show with host Captain Herb Emory each Saturday, from 12-1 p.m. (or whenever the Georgia Bulldogs are not playing) and daily as a traffic reporter on AM-750 and NOW 95.5 FM News/Talk WSB in Atlanta and on wsbradio.com. Doug also hosts podcasts on ChaseElliott.com and BillElliott.com and is co-track announcer at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, GA.
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