The Frontstretch: Fact Or Fiction: Penalty Punch, Catering To Newman, And Shaky Secrets by Thomas Bowles -- Tuesday June 7, 2011

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FACT: The Richard Childress Penalty Was The Right Call

There’s a lot of people up in arms today over the Grandfather – Greenery fight of the century: Richard Childress versus some shrubbery who goes by the name Kyle Busch. After the owner threw a punch at Busch following Saturday’s Truck race, in public view of several NASCAR competitors and officials the sport felt compelled to act quickly. So instead of their usual Tuesday detention session, the consequences came hard and heavy Monday afternoon: $150,000 and probation for Childress, while for Busch “no further action” was deemed required since Busch was already on probation for another incident – clashing with none other than that owner’s premier driver, Kevin Harvick at Darlington.

The punishment, while severe has left both sides of the aisle with a bitter taste in their mouths. The pro-Childress faction, upset with the size of the fine also feels frustration over the slap on the wrist for Busch, whose probation they claim was clearly violated during Saturday’s Truck race. Busch, upset with the way RCR driver Joey Coulter raced him, tapped the No. 22 Truck to show his displeasure after the checkered flag, then didn’t back down from the Childress confrontation which supporters say is enough to turn this “pretend” discipline of Busch into something real. Others say Childress, standing up for a race team that appears under siege from Kyle after a yearlong string of on-track confrontations has the right to take matters into his own hands.

Of course, the anti-Childress supporters aren’t happy, either, claiming $150,000 is pocket change for a multi-million dollar car owner that they think should have been suspended. And while the punch wasn’t caught live on camera, there’s precedent for that sort of thing; Jimmy Spencer got the one-race boot after sucker punching a defenseless Kurt Busch (sense a common thread here?) after Michigan in 2003. Typically, unless you’re the 1979 Daytona 500 captured on national television brawls aren’t dealt with through a smile, a wink, and throwing the whole incident under the table.

So which side is right? I’m going to go with Door #3: NASCAR. In this case, they had to do something to draw the line considering “Have At It, Boys” is escalating into a 65-year-old owner throwing punches. Yes, Childress has enough to pay the heavyweight-boxing fee but it’s enough money to make him think twice. On the flip side, Kyle Busch may have tapped Coulter after the checkered but he did no permanent damage to the truck and did nothing to instigate the physical confrontation with Childress in the garage; so why should he be suspended or punished? And certainly, by not locking either out of the garage NASCAR is, to a degree tolerating the physical consequences of the “Have At It” policy – which when this whole drama begins to calm down people will remember is exactly the type of rules policy they want. Did you gloss over the part where I mentioned the 1979 Daytona 500? Last I checked, those involved in the Cale Yarborough – Allison brothers brouhaha came out with their bodies intact, a pretty good story and the two-minute clip that would help usher this sport into the national spotlight. While not exactly something you want every week, keep in mind this 72-hour drama has left NASCAR at least a blip on the radar screen these days, a hard thing to do in the age where “Anthony Weiner,” “deadly tornadoes,” “NBA Finals,” and “Stanley Cup” demand top billing.

FACT: Ryan Newman Is Staying At Stewart-Haas For The Long-Term

With point leader Carl Edwards and walking miracle Brian Vickers heading the list of NASCAR free agents, it’s easy to forget Ryan Newman’s name is still out there, too on the list of drivers looking for 2012. But after a Monday shakeup at Stewart-Haas Racing, any doubt the Purdue grad would take his technical and driving talent somewhere else has been wiped away.

Surely, SHR hasn’t run as well as expected; both Newman and Tony Stewart are winless, with the boss carrying just one top-5 finish to his credit through 13 starts. Undoubtedly, those slumping numbers helped Vice President of Competition Bobby Hutchens, the only one the fledgling organization has ever known get the axe after two-plus seasons at the helm. But for Newman, it’s nothing but private smiles over SHR’s promoted replacement: Matt Borland, not only a technical whiz but the man who crew chiefed Newman to an eight-win, 11-pole season back in 2003 for Penske Racing. Borland, an SHR employee from the start has always been within Newman’s comfort zone, creating chemistry that’s critically important to developing the No. 39… should the driver sign on the dotted line a few more years.

Certainly, without many open rides it was difficult for Newman to test the free market waters in the first place. Now? A commitment to supporting his guy, even if it means a short-term rocky road should be enough to keep the SHR partnership rolling. It even might keep the No. 39 in Chase contention now, a well-timed risk with Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin, and Jeff Gordon among some of the drivers now breathing down the 10th-place point man’s neck. With just one top-5 finish over the last eight weeks, what did this organization have to lose?

Oh, that’s right, they could have lost a driver… someone looking to see a commitment internally for a middle-tier organization to try and improve itself. SHR has gone out and done that, so? It all adds up to a Newman-Stewart continuance come 2012.

FICTION: “Secret” Fines Can Stay Secret

It amazes me how, in this age of Facebook and Twitter and devices the size of your pinky that can record just about anything, anywhere big-time officials think they can keep secrets. But surprisingly enough, NASCAR – after getting burned by two similar incidents a year ago – has pulled the “don’t tell anyone” card again, supposedly keeping “hush hush” a $50,000 fine to Ryan Newman for using his fist to settle things with Juan Pablo Montoya inside their hauler. Occurring one month ago, at Richmond the sanctioning body never commented on or issued a penalty for the incident well-known to even the casual fan; they just hoped no one would ever confirm it actually happened.

Um, what? Sorry guys, but you’re not the CIA and we’re not talking about killing Osama Bin Laden. That type of miraculous intelligence trail, where a secret mission like that can be kept under wraps for over six weeks is an exception, not the rule to a type of public transparency that’s naturally evolving out of anyone’s control. As a public organization, every disciplinary action doled out by NASCAR officials will be subject to some serious scrutiny; the type, if even not publicly reported at first will cause various people “in the know” to gossip. And you know what happens when you gossip! There’s too many ways for those words to make it to print, from the deadly Tweet of 140 characters to the Facebook post that leads to instant notoriety. Do these guys really think the magnitude of a $50,000 fine, wrapped in the arms of a verbal threat is enough to keep that ugly present wrapped out and sitting out of public view for the rest of time?

The answer, of course, is a big fat “NO” so why is the sport so insistent on taking the unnecessary risk? It’s like hitting on 17 in Blackjack; bad enough as it is, even worse when a dealer has a 6 showing on the other side of the table where any card he picks is almost certain to make the hand go bust. And the best part of this whole thing is the vast majority of the sport’s opinionated fan base would have agreed with them on the penalty if it were just made public to begin with!

Instead, NASCAR had to jump on its high horse in the short run to make a point. We’ll see how much cache it costs them with the general public over the long-term.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
Nuts for Nationwide: The Curious Case of Elliott Sadler
Happiness Is…Arrogance, Less, Next, and the Outdoors
Frontstretch Foto Funnies: It’s Not Gonna Fit…


©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

Ghost of Curtis Turner
06/07/2011 08:43 AM

Tom, the major problem with this is that you still consider NA$CAR to be a sport with rules.
NA$CAR ceased any and all pretence of being a sport when Brian Farce took office. To be a sport you first must have rules to the game. There is no publish rule book for NA$CAR, as in all other sports. You can not have a copy of the rule book with out having a sanctioned NA$CAR Hard Card and then…maybe you can look at it. The rules change weekly to suit sponsorship dollars.

One could only imagine the uproar that would be caused if the MLB changed rules half way through a season just to help the METS, because they are so bad this year but their sponsor wrote a 18,000,000 check to the Comissioner and now they want a few favors in return.
At this Point you can not even compare NA$CAR to the WWE, or any other scripted entertainment outlet. Because unlike NA$CAR these other scripted entertainment outlets have Morals, not much but they at least stick to what they have.

So who cares what NA$CAR does or doesn’t do, remember the words “I don’t care if the press is good or bad, as long as the writting about me it’s all that matters.”
So in Brian Farce little mind (Hey BF those are my words not Tom’s) he sees all of this as a win win. As does Toyota, RCR, Fox Sports, M+M Mars etc.
The race use to go to the swiftest now it goes to whoever writes the biggest check. ( in secret or otherwise)

06/07/2011 12:05 PM

Ghost of Curtis Turner: to you a hearty “HELL YES”…..and to Tom, you are wrong as usual defending the bird-brain farce!!

Bill S.
06/07/2011 01:28 PM

Hell, Tom, even TENNIS is more popuar than NASCRAP now. And if you want class acts, look no further than the saviors of tennis, Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer, a Spaniard and a Swiss who put NASCAR and its redneck fans to shame. They have more fans than all NASCRAP drivers combined, make more money, live like rock stars, and amazingly, RESPECT each other.

And lack of respect in NASCRAP does not just extend to assault and battery by team owners. The fans get what they ask for: trailer trash on display.

Example: After Trevor Bayne won the Daytona 500 (as I am sure you have reason to remember), he was lauded as the breath of fresh air, the next great hope for superstardom. So how have the NASCAR fans treated him? Since his illness, message boards, forums, FB and Twitter are full of rumors of the unsavory nature of his “true illness.”

Have at it, fans. You get what you deserve.

06/07/2011 01:30 PM

I’m with the “ghost” here, too. sorry Tom, I think you got it all wrong.

NASCAR missed it with saying that Shrubby didn’t violate his probation when he DELIBERATELY ran into the side of a competitors truck after the race. RC had apparently TOLD Busch that he needed to knock that crap off – or else, and of course, the shrub didn’t believe him. Well, now he knows. If he hadn’t driven through Harvick’s car at Darlington, he might have gotten a fist to the nose too – after Harvick hauled him out of it.

“Secret fines”. The usual crap on this from NASCAR too. Bogus, bogus, bogus.

Fox’s coverage was consistent with what it has done all season. That means I use trackpass and twitter to actually FOLLOW the race and only look at the TV to see the replay of whatever happened because they missed it live.

old farmer
06/07/2011 01:32 PM

Ahh, finally some journalistic logic concerning the Childress affair.

06/07/2011 01:52 PM

On Childress V Busch: much ado about nutin. Bully was warned man-to-man, eyeball-to-eyeball. Bully ignored. Bully got whacked. Goes on a million times a day somewhere. But I can’t imagine Devout Christian Guy (aka Coach Gibbs) is keen on all the drama that has been pushed to his house lately. You know they went thru this with Tony Stewart—although at this point Tony The Tiger looks tame in comparison. Somehow they came to the standoff that even winning a lot doesn’t negate all the drama. K-ooed-Kyle doesn’t see that yet.

You know the most wins in NASCAR guy Richard Petty I bet hated to lose too. But he was and is such a class act. He is such an ambassador for this sport as is Busch the anti-Ambassador. And the second-most wins guy in this sport David Pearson was a class act too. He threw a punch once when a young upstart called him an “old man.” Pearson hated to lose too but he didn’t have a meltdown every time. Mark Martin hates to lose, he doesn’t lose his cool too often. Dale Jarret hated to lose. So did Bobby Allison and Cale Yarborough. They all had their moments but even in those moments their classy behavior was light years away from K-owed Kyle. I am guessing that Mr. Busch never spanked those boys for boorish behavior. I don’t think the lack of spankings led to their uber-competitiveness. John McCain was tortured for five years in Vietnam. He hates to lose too. The behavior from the Busch Boys just isn’t cool anymore. Never was really.

Bill S.
06/07/2011 02:16 PM

Ed, you kept it under 1,000 words today! Good for you! However, you prove again that there are no class acts in NASCAR today among the participants or the fans. Richard Petty? Yeah, he has had a lot of classy things to say about Dale Sr.‘s death. Like, “can’t we just get over it already and remember I am the King?”

As for Kyle, no harm, no lesson. Seeing Kyle Sunday, he hardly looked like he had taken a whooping. Most NASCAR fans look a lot worse afer a night in the bar. Not to mention how NASCAR wives look after their favorite driver gets passed by Rowdy.

Say what you will, 150k for a little fender damage is a hit to the wallet. And Richard still has that crapload of wannabe drivers working for him.

And Gina, my dear, it is totally NASCAR’s call as to what does and does not violate a driver’s probation. They didn’t consult you? I am shocked!

06/07/2011 02:54 PM

You actually wrote the Nascar was right in this whole thing? I think Nascar is the reason it happened to begin with by looking the other way everytime Kyle does something. They have done it so much now, that even Kyle knows he will never get any real punishment for his actions.

Had they come down on Busch harder/sooner for previous incidents this one would have never happened. And to excuse Busch from any fault of what happened is just laughable. Its like saying Childress walked over there and pummeled Busch because he had nothing better to do. If Busch keeps his truck off of the RCR truck this never happens.

Since Nascar doesn’t seem to want to do anything about it, Childress said enough is enough. Nascar is to blame for all this.

06/07/2011 03:14 PM

Bill S. I see you digress. But no matter; entitled to your opinion.

I can’t imagine K-ooed Kyle doesn’t reek from this one. He was embarrassed in front of his owners sponsors and fans. I never liked Kyle a bit as a human being but up until this week I greatly greatly respected his driving ability. But so he wanted to crunch a guy’s fender for fifth? Come On! That was a temper tantrum because he ran not better than 6th. So what did he accomplish (except for receiving a lite black eye) for door slammin the kid? Nutin. He could have like many many many mature adults and got out and talked the move over with the kid and if that didn’t work get loud and if that didn’t work get fisty…But he can’t. He is a wimp stand up. But behind the wheel he is a bully. So he is paying the price for his Bi-Polar Ness.

On the Richard Petty thing you can’t even be serious can you Bill S? Richard ain’t a saint but he has proven time and time again without your stamp of approval that he is classy. He said that too about when his own grandson got killed. That’s his defense mechanism, He said, paraphrasing: “it ain’t the cars (NH) and it ain’t the track.” Well he couldn’t been more wrong. The tracks were at fault for not having soft walls; the cars at that time were bad because they had become too rigid (see Robert Yates opinion on that) and lacked a number of now-standard items in the car build. Petty sat for hours and hours signing autographs that big-time guys like K-owed Kyle resent. Petty gave a lot to this sport, but one thing I will tell ya he doesn’t need me defending him. He can stand on his own. People like you are just clueless. I have seen Petty in many private instances and he was always gracious in every situation, win lose or draw. How many times has K-ooed Kyle been gracious?

And on the 1000 words thing? I love it baby. Because folks like yo are just like Kyle. Bully in 10 words or less. Can’t debate the issue can ya? Just yappin and flappin.

06/07/2011 03:28 PM

Oh and Bill S., you go thru my first 1000 word dissertation (know what that is?) and pick out all those Hall of Famers I mentioned that are full of class and tell me which ones aren’t classy. Go on man do it. Give to me all the examples of their bad behavior over they years and what they said. These guys were winners who now and again got fistie of bitchy but who never never on a consistent basis acted anywhere near what K-ooed Kyle acts.

And by the way you don’t have to agree with me at all and you don’t obviously, but you are classless in the way you express it. So I am giving you a lesson young un: you don’t have to take my word for it you can see it on Coach Gibbs face now. It’s a plain as day. This bad behavior is wearing on him. And we have heard it from the other Busch boy too when he called the Captain “dude”. These are men, Gibbs and Penske, who have more class—there we go with that word again—and stature in the racing and business world that all the wins of both Busch brothers combined could bring them. Harvick said it best a couple of years ago: “Kurt will embarrass Roger Penske.” He has and his wins don’t make up for that. Neither do Kyle’s. I bet it was stale beer to Kurt when Kez won that race.

Sharon J
06/07/2011 03:35 PM

Ed – All Bill S. has in his vocabulary is “Trailer Trash”. Pathetic.

sylvia richardson
06/07/2011 08:00 PM

boo boo on old richard. get your towel out again. hee hee,you also kevin your are just a punk like kyle and richard is a cry baby.

06/07/2011 08:03 PM

Well, as one who grew up in Charlotte during the 70’s and early 80’s. Let me say this.
Whether they fight or not is not going to add to the exitement of the racing.
Same cars, maybe different engines, who really knows. It is like watching go-kart racing. However, if a one driving a go-kart gets the lead, the clean air does not leave that driver there.
Unfortunately, this is far,far from stock car racing that I grew up on. Now living in Canada as I know in the US there are plenty of short tracks and others where we can watch pure stock car racing.

NASCAR is for the simple minded, it is not as it title states ‘Stock Car Racing’ It is boring, too long and too predictable.

Let’s throw a water bottle out the window and create a yellow. Maybe the driver we want to win will do so.

Sorry, give me the old guys like Allison, Baker, etc.

The ones now, they do not want to win, it is ‘It was a great points night’

From Canada, sleep well my southern friends.

06/07/2011 08:27 PM

Oh, I need to say 1 more thing.

As one who has gone to watch these races.

2x’s it took us 6 hours to get out of MI

Charlotte…if you do not park in the right parking lot, you end up going north for miles before you can turn around.

Pocono, they don’t care 8 hours to get out there.

Bristol, charge the max and after that who cares.

Daytona….have you ever really waited for thoses buses…they are packed and too few.

Darlington…in the middle of nowhere…and try to get back to Charlotte, depending on where you are parked. [another one that took 6 hours]

and…it just a points race!!!

There are a few more…but I will not be at those tracks again

06/09/2011 06:18 AM

Sounds like you should know, Susie


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