The Frontstretch: Potts' Shots: "Don't Mess With an Old Man" by John Potts -- Thursday June 9, 2011

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Potts' Shots: "Don't Mess With an Old Man"

John Potts · Thursday June 9, 2011


Only one inquiry this week, from Fritz in North Carolina…

What’s your take on the Kyle Busch/Richard Childress dust up and NASCAR’s handling of it?


As if there weren’t enough opinions flying around on that subject. To begin with, I had softened my opinion about Kyle somewhat as this season progressed, sensing that he had matured somewhat. That could be because he’s married, or because he now understands some of the demands of team ownership, but it seemed so.

This season Kyle Busch planned on repairing his reputation, but recent altercations have already tarnished his ‘new’ image.

The incident with Kevin Harvick made me think I might have given him too much credit. Now, I’m beginning to believe that he has adopted a policy of trying to fly below the radar in regard to causing disturbances. We’ve all known people like this. Guys who walk into a bar, have a beer and get an argument started, and leave once it’s going real good.

I don’t know what he said to Richard, but it had to be pretty strong to set RC off. Understand me right, I can’t condone Richard’s action in virtually attacking an opposing driver, but I also understand what he must have felt.

Somehow, I’ve gotten the impression that he was simply fed up with Kyle’s BS. That doesn’t excuse it, of course, but I recall somebody saying that sooner or later somebody was going to kick Kyle’s posterior. And it finally happened.

As to NASCAR’s handling of it, I don’t’ think they had much choice. An old friend of mine likes the saying, “Don’t mess with an old man – if he figures he can’t fight you on even terms, he’ll just shoot you.”

Maybe Busch should be happy RC felt like he could handle him.

I am reminded of an incident involving the late Eddie Sachs and one Rufus Parnell Jones following the 1963 Indianapolis 500-Mile Race. That one was won by Parnelli, and there was a controversy about his roadster leaking oil at one point in the race. They had the black flag out, as a matter of fact, but decided not to throw it after some persuasion from his car owner.

The fluid was reportedly coming from a crack in the oil tank, mounted on the left side of the car. The car owner, J.C. Agajanian, pointed out that the car was no longer leaking oil because the level had dropped below the crack on the tank. They were also understandably reluctant to black flag the leader of the Indianapolis 500.

At any rate, they didn’t black flag him, and he won the race. My own take at the time was that oil doesn’t dry up quickly, and if anybody was running in it, so was Parnelli, and he wasn’t sliding. (Years later, Roger McCluskey told me, “I spun, and I spun in his oil.”)

The previous year, when Parnelli had broken the 150-mph “barrier” in qualifying, he lost his brakes in the race, and his pit crew had to slow him down for pit stops by putting tires out for him to run into. That cost him the 1962 race, in my opinion. I’m told drivers very rarely used the brakes except to go in the pits in those days.

According to the story, on the day after the 1963 race, Eddie approached Parnelli in either the lobby or the bar of the Speedway Motel, and told him he had “questionable” finishes in two consecutive years. I can’t speak to the accuracy of the exact conversation, but people who were there said that after Parnelli explained that the ’63 car had stopped leaking oil, Sachs said, “You’re a liar.”

Jones then reportedly said, “Eddie, you call me that again and I’m going to smack you in the mouth.”

Sachs replied, “You’re a liar.” And Parnelli promptly smacked him in the mouth.

Nobody ever accused ol’ Rufe of not doing what he said he’d do.

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Matt Potts
06/09/2011 06:49 AM

Kyle is the DW of this day and age. Sooner or later he will change and then everyone will ‘love’ him like they do DW. As far as the sport “standing to lose ‘old farts’”, who is going to fill those spots if those guys are gone. They are the ones bringing up new talent. As a matter of fact, Kyle’s owner is one of the ‘old farts’ mentioned. Where would Kyle be without these guys? Who cares how many fans Kyle has on FB anyway?

06/09/2011 08:15 AM

Susan doesn’t really have any facts at all to back up all of the claims that she makes. She is just one of those people who love to get on websites and make outrageous statements simply to anger all of the other people unhappy.

06/09/2011 12:39 PM

the way i saw it, susan violated points 1, 2, and 3… the all caps thing was the only one she/he missed in the site’s publication guidlines.

RC didn’t virtually attack kyle he actually attacked him in a premeditated manner. I for one will be interested to see how or if kyle uses this newly learned bit of information on how to further get under rc’s skin as a competitive advantage. maybe cup racing will get interesting this year after all… sure isn’t going to hurt ratings.

a funny thing (to me) to note. kyle thoroughly made harvick made harvick look like a fool on pit road and now he didn’t/couldn’t fight back against childress making him look like a felon mugger (did he get any cash or jewelry… no but he sure spent some.) wouldn’t it be a great match up to have kyle drive for childress sometime in the future? i don’t buy this kyle is the 2nd coming of dale senior stuff but man the guy drives with a passion to win races (as opposed to a passion for points racing) and is a lightning rod for controversy…

06/09/2011 01:18 PM

I am still aghast at RC’s actions… However, I understand the chaos that is Kyle B. and when looking at how that chaos spreads from Cup to Truck, I can understand the frustration RC felt. Doesn’t excuse the “dustup” by any means. Sort of have to agree with the assessment of old men, guns, and handling. I have to admire RC for thinking that he could handle Kyle! Seems like he did so admirably. But the sanctions he’ll face far outweigh the momentary satisfaction of the encounter. As for Kyle claiming he was not the “aggressor..” There are more ways than physical to be the aggressor, and he very likely albeit uncomfirmable egged RC on. So maybe Kyle got what he deserved that evening.. I always told my step daughter that fighting NEVER settles anything, and to be sure, this encounter is not over. There will be repercussions for both men for weeks to come, even if they are all verbal. Too bad that both men, one young and brash, the other older and mostly wiser, couldn’t have been more mature about things that night. RC may have attacked Kyle, but it was not without provocation. Kyle B envokes negative reactions everywhere. Sometimes I wish he were not so darn talented behind the wheel. It would be much easier for the drivers and owners to laugh him off or ignore him.

Dave Blake
06/09/2011 02:04 PM

My only question in this whole mess is this, “How could NASCAR say KB did nothing to violate his probation if he ran into RC’s truck after the checkered flag?” Why hasn’t anyone asked that question?

06/09/2011 02:41 PM

I agree, if you run into someones truck after the race even after the owner of the truck warned you and Nascar has you on probation how can you not be at fault? Remember folks, without Kyle running into Richard’s Truck this event would never have happened so Kyle has to have some blame and since he is on probation he should have gotten a pretty good penalty.

06/09/2011 02:49 PM

If your going to assess blame on anyone, it goes strictly to Nascar.

If Nascar hadn’t looked the other way countless times when Kyle was wrecking car/trucks needlessly, the incident never would have happened.

Richard had seen enough. Plain and simple and he did something about it because he knew Nascar wouldn’t. He also warned Kyle that if he messed with his equipment anymore, there would be repercussions.

And Nascar saying Kyle was complete innocent is even more of a joke. If Kyle would have kept his truck off of Coulters, the incident never would have happened too.

Yes, Childress was wrong by what he did but Kyle certainly had it coming. Lets hope he learns from this.

Bill S.
06/09/2011 04:52 PM

The only part I agree with is that Richard is an old man. Ane he knows his glory days are at least 10 years behind him. Of course, he is frustrated. If the biggest gun in my arsenal was Delana Harvick, I would be frustrated too.


06/10/2011 12:08 AM

Steve and Larry nailed it big time.

But then NA$CAR is never atfault.