Race Weekend Central

Potts’ Shots: “Don’t Mess With an Old Man”

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.

“Ask John Potts A Question”:https://frontstretch.com/contact/18438/

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