The Frontstretch: Owners Should Know Better Than Drivers by Mike Neff -- Sunday June 5, 2011

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Owners Should Know Better Than Drivers

Monday Morning Tear-Down · Mike Neff · Sunday June 5, 2011


There is no question that NASCAR racing, that racing in general, is much more interesting when there is rivalry and confrontation involved. Seeing drivers turn things up even another notch when they get near a driver they openly dislike gets the fans even further on the edge of their seats than they already are during a race. While drivers getting into fist fights in the garage and on pit road isn’t nearly as common now as it was in the early rough and tumble days of NASCAR, there are still personalities that mix like oil and water.

And they seem to somehow always end up near each other on the track during a race. The competition aspect of auto racing naturally brings out raw emotion and drivers can sometimes lose control of those emotions. However, while there is some leeway that is afforded those drivers because of the nature of the sport, that leeway isn’t extended to team owners.

This past weekend, after the Truck Series race, team owner Richard Childress let his emotions get the better of him, and it resulted in him getting kicked off pit lane for Sunday’s Cup race. It is probably going to cost him some money when fines are announced on Tuesday.

Close quarters racing between Kyle Busch and Joey Coulter late in Saturday’s Truck race at Kansas led to an emotional confrontation post-race that owner Richard Childress should have never been a part of.

As the race came to the checkered flag, RCR driver Joey Coulter passed Kyle Busch and sealed the deal by pulling up in front of Busch abruptly, forcing him to lift out of the gas or cause a wreck. On the cool down lap Busch gave Coulter’s truck a bump on the side as the trucks were heading to the pits. Minutes later, according to eye witness accounts, Childress removed his jewelry from his hands and then approached Busch as he walked from his hauler toward his motor coach. Childress reportedly hit Busch with his fist, the two were separated and traded insults. Childress then grabbed Busch in a headlock and did his best Nolan Ryan v. Robin Ventura with three more shots to Busch’s noggin. Busch did not retaliate, other than with verbal barbs, and was not the instigator, so he did not violate his NASCAR probation after an earlier altercation with RCR driver Kevin Harvick at Darlington.

NASCAR officials met with the parties involved, along with Joe Gibbs (Kyle Busch’s team owner) on Sunday morning. The sanctioning body determined that Busch did not do anything to violate his probation, and would not be penalized as a result of the confrontation. Childress was allowed to stay at the race track but was limited in the areas where he was allowed to visit. NASCAR did not eject Childress from the track because with no other management personnel in attendance from RCR, the company needed to have someone in a leadership capacity on site. Childress is going to receive further penalties according to a statement released by NASCAR.

At the end of the day, there’s no question that NASCAR brings out passion and emotion among its members as well as its fans. But there is a responsibility for the people who are in leadership positions on the race teams involved to maintain an air of restraint in times of high emotion. Childress has certainly seen his teams in the mix of things with Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing over the last year. Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin were deeply involved in the championship hunt last year and had a run in at Dover. Busch and Harvick had their issue at Darlington last month, which resulted in both drivers being placed on probation. Harvick and Joey Logano have experienced a few different dustups over their careers, including the infamous “She wears the driver’s suit” comment at Pocono.

So when the action heated up on Saturday, there’s no doubting why Childress decided to take matters over personally. But an owner of a race team simply can’t allow himself to be sucked into a situation like that. There are too many people in a racing organization that look directly to the owner of the team for leadership. When they see him “knuckling up” on a competing team’s driver, it is sending two messages.

One message is that the owner is tired of seeing what he’s seeing and he’s going to do something about it. That message will undoubtedly inspire his troops and dedicate them further to the organization’s efforts. The second message is the more dangerous one, which is that it is OK to go after members of other organizations, to try and settle things violently. While it brings fans to the track and adds spice and excitement when people in the garage get physical with each other, the people who make the top decisions in race teams cannot let themselves be drawn into the melees, because the entire situation could devolve into chaos.

Now had Childress chased down coach Gibbs in the garage and decided to throw down, while still inappropriate, the situation would be different because they are both leaders of race organizations. The folks running NASCAR might not have seen it exactly the same, but for two owners to throw down over what goes on during races would be a fair tussle. If Childress were allowed to go after a driver and not be given a significant penalty, there would be no way for them to act any differently if the tables were turned. Say Carl Edwards put Chip Ganassi in a headlock and did some Moe Howard action on his dome. NASCAR has no choice but to nip this in the bud, and it is the right thing to do. Owners need to police their own drivers and ensure that things do not deteriorate into an all out war in the garage area.

Richard Childress is an icon in NASCAR and has hundreds of thousands of fans who look up to him for the years and championships that he has given them with Dale Earnhardt and Kevin Harvick. However, he is a man, and sometimes emotions can get the better of a man.

Which is what happened on Saturday. Richard lost his cool and is going to pay a heavy price for it. It will no doubt give him a lot of street cred among the folks who like to see garage fights, but he’ll probably have to work to repair his image in other circles, especially the ones where the big sponsorship checks come from. At the end of the day, Richard should have known better.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
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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
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06/05/2011 11:17 PM

I agree with point #1, but point #2 is a stretch. Those crew guys on pit road will not start beating people up because Childress fought with Busch. They are humans with intellect, not conditioned animals.

Childress did not make the smartest decision, but his actions are understandable and time will do it’s job to wash the memories away. I respect him since he is the first to finally put Mr. Busch in his place.

06/05/2011 11:18 PM

Given that Kryle is a truck owner, I’d say that what happened was a “fair tussle.”

06/06/2011 12:55 AM

Lots of fans, including myself, will be glad to see Kyle Busch get a little head scrubbing. Kyle expressing his displeasure to Joey Coulter by wheel rubbing him on the cool down lap is akin to an NFL pro lining up against a high schooler then berating him for hitting him too hard.

That said, Richard Childress has always been the biggest cry-baby in NASCAR and his complaing about Busch tearing up his race cars is the pot calling the kettle black. Nobody in history tore up more cars than Dale Earhardt, not to mention the fact that Kevin Harvick does much more damage to a car during a burn-out that Kyle did wheel rubbing Coulter’s car. But Childress’s action is worse than the pot calling the kettle black, it’s the pot trying to scrub the kettle clean. Childress is a cry-baby and a hypocrite who deserves to be suspended from the race track for a lengthy period.


phil h
06/06/2011 01:10 AM

Kyle Busch is so good,and is so on top of his game that even the owners are pissed about it.When you are the best,jealousy runs rampant.

06/06/2011 01:21 AM

You are forgetting that Vile Kyle was the owner of the truck he drove. So it was an owner vs owner/driver. Gibbs is out of the mix of this as it was truck related an he does NOT own the truck driven by the punk.

06/06/2011 06:26 AM

I’d say that RC got tired of Nascar doing nothing to put the brakes on the attitude and actions (on and off the track) of Mr. Busch. When it became apparent no action would be taken, RC decided to go ‘old school’ on Kyle. It certainly seems better than using a race car to express your displeasure, say on pit road after a race. If one ruffles enough feathers long enough, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that someone is going to put their money where their mouth is.

Stephen HOOD
06/06/2011 07:00 AM

I have to agree with the other comments that Kyle is not only the driver in the Truck series, but an owner as well. I think it plays a role in this incident. I’m not sure why Joe Gibbs is involved.

I’ve been waiting for a couple of years for someone to take Busch to the woodshed, but I didn’t expect it would be RC.

Bill B
06/06/2011 07:20 AM

I didn’t even think about the fact that Kyle is the owner of the truck team. Still, it isn’t a good thing for owners to be duking it out either. Can’t say it wasn’t nice to see Kyle finally get a comupance.

06/06/2011 07:32 AM

Note to Rowdy, this aint the movies, punches hurt.

06/06/2011 07:59 AM

We finally see that Childress has the same punk mentality that he finds ‘admirable’ in his drivers. He always tries to come off with some air of dignity when his drivers thug it up, but just like E Sr., he doesn’t like it when the tables get turned and someone tags him or his guys. Yup, the facade is gone and the real Richard that was under the covers has been disclosed. Nice folks in that RCR organization from the top down.

Joe W.
06/06/2011 08:22 AM

I think it’s odd that Kyle Busch keeps getting away with everything he does. He is a PUNK. I wish Childress had kicked his butt more. He really should have gotten a suspension for his reckless off track acts but no, everything is O.K. for Kyle! I wish everyone would just line up and beat the little jerk black and blue. Maybe then he would learn how to act. But I wouldn’t hold my breath on that.

06/06/2011 08:35 AM

Childress is just doing what NASCAR has failed to do; teach the punk Busch a lesson. He (Busch) has shown a complete disregard, on and off the track, for his fellow drivers, the fans and the sport in general. Like Jimmy Spencer had to teach a lesson to the punk’s older punk brother, Childress had to teach a lesson here. Bravo Richard

06/06/2011 09:00 AM

I have been a Richard Childress fan since mid 80’s when Dale Sr. was my Driver. I am also a Kyle fan.

Nothing I have seen on TV has shown Kyle doing anything wrong, the last 10-15 laps of racing looked clean from both drivers and even the cool down rub/bump could have been a good job welcome to the truck series. We see this done all the time from first time winners, teamates and competitor’s after a good hard CLEAN RACE. I was not there, and believe if anyone but Kyle would have done this NO ONE would have said a word.

Richard better think hard about his actions, because his two grandson’s are very aggresive and racing in series where there is a little more Old School racing and less media to inform the fans of what is happening behind the scene.

06/06/2011 09:46 AM

Folks, Nascar is 100% the blame for this deal. Kyle has gotten away with bumping and wrecking drivers in all three series for years now and always gotten away with a little fine and double secret probation for his actions. And, I don’t understand all these comments about a tire rub with Busch after the truck race. I watched headline news this morning and based on the tape they showed it certainly looked like more of a bump than a rub and Childress’s Truck got pertty loose. Wouldn’t you think if you were on probation you would stay as far away as possible from hitting or rubbing someone like this if you had any sense? Kyle has wrecked plenty of people in the truck, nationwide, and cup series for years and the most he has ever gotten was a little fine and some probation. And, a lot of them were running for the championship in the truck and nationwide series and Kyle wasn’t. What is a cup guy moonlighting in those series doing wrecking and spinning them out for? And, what Kyle did at Darlington was far worst than this incident. Deliberatly wrecking someone in front of the field then pushing a car on pit road which could have hurt a lot of innocent bystanders. Nascar did nothing for Kyle’s what 83 MPH over the limit Speeding Ticket the other day neither has Gibbs. And, based on what I’ve read so far, Nascar had pretty much exonerated Kyle for this incident and is already throwing Childress under the bus. Busch’s probation was for “actions detrimental to stock car racing” or something along them lines. You don’t think that speeding ticket didn’t give a black eye to Nascar? Heck it was on just about every channel on t.v. And, a lot of folks or bringing up Earnhardt Senior and how he raced. Well, he did go over the line sometimes but back in the eighties and nineties there was a lot more bumping/rubbing/and all from a lot of drivers. Go back and watch some of those old classic Nascar Races on ESPN. Again, Kyle should have gone out of his way to avoid any resemblence of bumping, rubbing, or trying to wreck someone since he is on probation. And, based on what I’ve read, Childress had already warned Kyle about wrecking his cars. And, anyone saying Childress Drivers are anywhere close to Kyle when it comes to dirty driving must not be watching the same races I am watching. Again, all this could have been avoided if Kyle had kept his distance as he should of had being on probation and also being warned by Childress. And, if Nascar had really put any fear in Busch that he might get some meaningful penalty that might have prevented it too. But, looks like Nascar will just turn their eye from Busch until the next time and will probably see the same thing again. But I’ll bet you one thing, Richard has probably gotten congrats from just about every team in Nascar except Gibbs and Kyle’s. And, most of us know why because Kyle has had this coming for a long time. Again, if not for the bump from Kyle which should have never happen him being on probation we wouldn’t be talking about this. So, let’s put blame where blame is due and it’s clearly on Kyle and Nascar.

Bill S.
06/06/2011 10:12 AM

I also don’t see that it is better for two team owners to trade punches than two drivers or one owner and one owner/driver. It is all conduct detrimental to the sport which is NASCAR’s go-to phrase for any foolish incident. And the Childress admirers who say Busch had it coming clearly do not realize that that is no excuse in a business organization or a court of law. Kyle seemed largely unscathed Sunday, so as usual, these amatuer boxers do more swinging than connecting which makes them look even more ridiculous.

FS and a large segment of the fan base have been whining for Kyle to grow up and he is all of 26. When is 65-year old Dick Childress going to grow up? He lived off his connection with cash-cow Dale Sr. for many years and now the going is a lot tougher with his current stable of less-than’s.

Childress has the distinciton of being a pathetic old man AND a punk who will get no “atta boy” from me or any other intelligent fan (granted that there are very few).

And Larry, I also watched the replay of the end of the truck race when Coulter cut Kyle off and Kyle bumped Coulter’s truck on the cool-down lap. NASCAR was 100% correct in not making a mountain out of either molehill. Only the Kyle-bashers find fault where there is none.

Man up, Dickie and take your punishment.

Glen H.
06/06/2011 11:34 AM

Isn’t it interesting to see all the hypocrisy involved in the Childress/Busch incident.

A few weeks ago, everyone was wanting to throw Kyle in jail for speeding yet those same people are commending Chidress for assalting Busch. In most places, assalt is a crime that involves jail time, yet no one is saying anything about Childress not being put in jail.

Then there’s Richard Childress. He used to have a driver that wrecked more cars than anyone in the sport. But I guess it is OK for Earnhardt to have done it, but not Busch. Oh yeah, Childress also has Harvick driving for him – another driver that has been known to bang fenders during and after the race.

I guess it must be OK to wreck someone else if it’s your driver. Hypocrites!

06/06/2011 12:17 PM

Thanks for giving the tussle your ok it was 2 team owners fighting. Do your homework Mike.

phil h
06/06/2011 12:50 PM

Richard,you better get ready! just the other week your grandson Ty spun Frank Kimmel out in an Arca race!How would you feel if the elder Frank would have beat the s**t out of your grandson for making contact with him?

Bill S.
06/06/2011 01:41 PM

Tweet from

NASCAR has fined Richard Childress $150K and placed him on probation until 12-31 for his involvement in altercation”

That’s more like it. Have any of you geniuses thought about what the legal repercussions of NASCAR doing NOTHING about assault and battery would be? I am not just talking about this incident, since Kyle is obviously not going to press charges, but for potential future incidents as well.

NASCAR is not liable for a speeding ticket off track. They are very much liable for incidents that happen within the premises of their tracks during NASCAR-sanctioned events.

Sharon J
06/06/2011 01:49 PM

Bush does nothing wrong as far as Nascar can see. Running into the 22 was wrong in my book. Run into my car and you will pay the price yet drivers can not do payback on Bush. Oh no, Nascar will not allow that.

06/06/2011 02:11 PM

Richard Childres, I have never liked or respected you even during your driving and Dale years. But you sir have earned my respect!! A these “peacenicks” that are, and always will be, cowards will never understand what a MAN and his beliefs are!! Bush is a punk and will remain a punk(with a hired body guard) but some place, some time he will get what he sorely deserves….an a** kicking extraordinary through!! Richard has shown the young guys how it is done!! Shame on them for making a 65 year old man do their job!!

06/06/2011 02:41 PM

I agree completely with Joe W. Kyle’s continuing disrespect of NASCAR, it’s traditions and especially its fans makes it obvious that he wasn’t reared properly at home while growing up. RC did EXACTLY WHAT NEEDED TO BE DONE. I just wish he broke that punk’s nose too!

06/06/2011 02:42 PM

After seeing the way Kyle ran from Kevin Harvick, it’s no wonder he didn’t defend himself against Richard Childress. The kid is a coward and hides behind his car. It’s about time someone caught the creep and scared the crap out of him. That’s what happens when the playground kids get tired of the bully.

06/06/2011 02:52 PM

Does fine money still go to the point fund? Or have they started giving it to some charity?

Either way, $150,000 to punch Kyle Busch in the face was probably worth it for the millionaire philanthropist. His prepared statement sounded rather light on apology.

Don Mei
06/06/2011 02:59 PM

Totally boring. I’m with Rick P.

06/06/2011 03:23 PM

Yea Richard For doing what needed to be done…Boo nascar for being politically correct (who needs it) There were no cameras & it’s 2 owners ..I’ll bet most the drivers are cheering…

06/06/2011 03:31 PM

Kyle is a bully, and someone finally stood up to him. Kyle can’t beat Jimmie or win a Cup title so he strokes his ego in the Truck Series. The worst thing for me with Cup guys in the lower divisions is that they think the series regulars should just lay over for them. I think back to the Hamlin-Keselowski incident at Charlotte a few years ago. The problem is you have these prodigies who have been told since they were teenagers they were the next Jeff Gordon they develop a sense of entitlement, and you get Kyle Busch type behavior.

Bill S.
06/06/2011 03:39 PM

I don’t care that I am in the minority, but I believe Childress and Harvick are the bullies and the cowards here. Childress sucker-punched Kyle when they were supposedly “discussing” the non-incident after the truck race.

Kevin waited till his bodyguards (crew) showed up AND left his helmet on for good measure before he tried to punch a guy sitting in his car.

Real heroes, those two. And if some other bully tries the same thing with Kyle as you so clearly want, they will get the same treatment from NASCAR. Again, A&B is a CRIME! What part of that do you not understand? And if Kyle were to be injured by one of these punks you look up to, by all means Kyle should press charges. He can go to both the criminal and the civil courts.

And if it happens on NASCAR property at a NASCAR-sanctioned event, NASCAR is also civilly liable.

You girls, and I don’t just mean Annie and Sharon, need to study up on the law before you advocate gratuitous violence against someone just because you think he has it coming.

(And do NOT bring up the freakin’ speeding ticket, which happened away from the track on a public road and will be dealt with by the judicial system and due process of law, which the vigilantes here also do not accept. Damn the Constitution – fists rule! Have a set of white sheets and crosses for burning too?)

06/06/2011 04:00 PM

Bill said: “Have any of you geniuses thought about what the legal repercussions of NASCAR doing NOTHING about assault and battery would be? I am not just talking about this incident, since Kyle is obviously not going to press charges, but for potential future incidents as well.”

About the same as going 85 MPH over the speed limit?

Bill S.
06/06/2011 05:33 PM

I am talking about NASCAR’s potential liability for actions on its premises during its sanctioned events. NASCAR is NOT liable for speeding tickets issued to its drivers. End of THAT tired discussion.

“And do NOT bring up the freakin’ speeding ticket, which happened away from the track on a public road and will be dealt with by the judicial system under due process of law.”

06/06/2011 06:57 PM

Please don’t watch the hockey game tonight – it’s too violent! I hope the police are there to charge everyone who throws a punch! lol

06/06/2011 07:00 PM

I like that one person here actually had some sense and remembered that assulting an individual is indeed a crime. Before the 600, all of you morons were claiming that Busch got away with reckless driving, he should have been thrown in jail..blah blah blah. You can say what you will about Kyle Busch, but assault is still a crime but thankfully for your RCR morons, it looks like he has forgone pressing charges against Childress (even though is would apparently be warranted). But will Kyle get any praise for letting his own cooler head prevail? Not fighting back against an old man that probably would have broken a hip? Not pressing charges for assault and possibly sending a well known NASCAR figure away in handcuffs? No, you morons will continue to claim he should be suspended and thrown in jail for his moving violation while assault is apparently just what he needs. Pathetic is the only word to describe your outlook on how NASCAR should work. Well may 2 words, hypocritical.

06/06/2011 07:09 PM

Maybe old RC should have borrowed Gordons AARP car and settled it car on car – the way KB does.

06/06/2011 07:47 PM

Good article. I just find it ironic myself that Childress has ALWAYS had the agressive drivers yet he can’t handle a driver from another team being agressive. What he did will gain him popularity I’m sure for the Kyle haters but bottom line is…what he did was wrong and setting a bad example for years to come. I personally was never a Sr. fan, nor am I a Harvick fan for their agression on the track but I also know that RUBBIN IS RACIN! He can say it’s about Kyle messing up his cars & trucks but I think its more about Kyle being a great driver and competitor. I applaude Kyle for not fighting back.

06/06/2011 07:52 PM

How long have some of you been watching Kyle? If you had been watching him a few years you would see why so many fans or upset at him. He has tore countless trucks, nationwide cars, and cup cars and probably the majority of them innocent bystanders and you Kyle Fans just keep defending him? What a bunch of jackasses. That incident with Kyle at Darlington was way more dangerous and could have involved way more innocent cars and bystanders and Nascar gives a $25000 fine and four race probation and now gives Childress a $150000 fine and a year’s probation? That’s insane. And, truth be known Kyle violated his probation when he hit that truck cause I’ll be you he was warned by Nascar to avoid anything like that when he was put on probation. Boy, Toyota really puts the money in Nascar. And, you can bet money that 95% of the owners and drivers supports Childress in what he’s done. They probably won’t admit it cause ole big Daddy Nascar would punished them but you can bet they support Childress.

06/06/2011 08:14 PM

Hey Larry do you think Harvick had anything to do with leaving his car unattended on pit road?

I know these cars are geared different then a street car, but I have pushed started cars before and they hardly move when not being pushed, Harvisk’s car rolled 20+ ft after Rowdy quit pushing it?

06/06/2011 09:00 PM

Assault is a misdemeanor. It is not to be confused with assault and battery where he carries some kind of weapon. Big deal, Shrub got his butt kicked by an old man

06/06/2011 09:19 PM


There is a big difference between being an aggressive driver and being a wreckless driver. Just about any driver out there is aggressive, just like Sr. and Harvick.

Kyle Busch is completely wreckless on the track. I only hope that he doesn’t either seriously injure or even kill someone.

NASCAR should have done something about him a long time ago. Unfortunately, they saw the money signs being made by his souvenirs and such and chose not to properly punish him.

I will bet that if you were to check in all of the garages today, there are many people who are happy that Childress did what he did. They have all wanted to do it and are just glad that someone did it finally. They are probably even be taking a collection to help pay the fine!

06/06/2011 10:19 PM

Scott, at around 200 mph. racing, all drivers out there can be considered wreckless. How about Carl Edwards and Keselowski (was it last year?)? There are few people who can honestly admit that KB isn’t entertaining with his ability to drive and win in anything he drives. Bottom line is nobody likes a winner and KB is a winner. As for Nascar doing something.., I think that is some of the problem with this sport right now is that Nascar has tried to do too much and gone too far so I don’t agree with that statement at all. As for the other drivers; of course they are happy about one of their biggest competitors getting roughed up because they feel like it might throw off his momentum. I’m not going to say KB wasn’t asking for it but my opinion is that RC was wrong and could have handled it differently and obviously Nascar agrees :).

06/07/2011 12:21 AM

I just spanked Kyle Busch at the Holiday Inn.

06/07/2011 12:33 AM

That was a quote from RC to Mike Helton. Mike handed RC a 250K check and then fined him 150k to make things look legit.

06/07/2011 01:02 PM

I find it funny how some of you are saying Childress needs to be arrested, but yet you are some of the same people who were vilifying Kevin Conway for him involving the police when Robby Gordon went after him earlier in the year. A little hypocritical don’t you think?

And Bill, isn’t Kyle on probation for “actions detrimental to stock car racing”? I’m guessing going 85 MPH over the speed limit fits the description considering his actions affected the sanctioning body in which his actions took place. Whether on or off the track, he represents Nascar everywhere he goes does he not? And before you say it, no his job is not like every other persons job. He is a public figure and his actions are held to a higher standard than you or I.

Bill S.
06/07/2011 01:17 PM

Joe, did that spank you gave Kyle turn you on?

Marc, you are wrong on the definition of battery. Any physical contact can be considered battery, with or without a weapon. And a misdemeanor is still a criminal act. Aggravated battery with a weapon is a felony. But that is totally beyond the point here. Dickie could have been arrested and in any other sport where an owner attacked an opposing player (or owner) outside the locker room, he would have been.

Steve, I know the legal definitions, but whatever NASCAR considers actions detrimental to racing is their call. They have chosen to define it narrowly to what happens at the track during their sanctioned events. Given that position, the only jurisdiction over Kyle for the speeding ticket is the court – with due process, a concept completely foreign to NASCAR.

06/07/2011 03:00 PM

Bill S-No, but it must have for you since you asked about it.

no spin
06/07/2011 07:31 PM

Are you kidding RC committed a crime. It’s not often a DA gets a chance to make name for him self, he’s not going to miss a chance


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