Nearly one week after the Kyle Busch – Richard Childress scuffle, both sides spent Friday playing down their role and playing up their desire to move on.
But whether either side will change from their public squabble? That’s an answer we won’t know for weeks, made clear during NASCAR’s opening practices at Pocono where Childress’ $150,000 fine, combined with a Kyle Busch referendum remained the topic du jour within the garage area.
First, there was Childress’ side, whose hastily arranged presser Friday morning turned into a short, simple statement without questions. That’s a shame, because perhaps the biggest one left unanswered after he talked is if these words translated into a full-scale apology for anyone… let alone Busch himself.
“The main thing is I take all the responsibility for my actions last week,” he explained. “I am very passionate about this sport. I am passionate about my race teams, our fans and I let my emotions get…come in front of my passion. But that is behind us.”
“I guess the next thing is the fine that was levied against me, I’m going to pay it personally. I agree that NASCAR should have done something with me. I don’t agree that they didn’t handle the situation that happened on the cool-down lap.”
“With that said, we had a lot of fans to send in donations last week toward our fine, I am going to pay it personally. All that money that has been sent in, that is still coming in, we’re going to take and donate to the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. At least in every bad situation, something good will come out of it.”
And there you have it. The car owner deserves credit for at least standing up and facing the media music… but after that? Sounds like we have a case of, “Whoops! My emotions got the best of me” rather than “I’m really sorry, Kyle.”
“His passion I think is the biggest thing for this sport,” explained one of his drivers, Clint Bowyer shortly thereafter. “He takes a lot of pride in having success in this sport. He takes it very seriously. Here is a man that is 65 years old and still every bit as big a part of this sport and our organization as he was when it started and probably even more. We’ve got close to 500 employees and he works very hard to make sure all of them have a job. I think that’s the biggest thing, his passion for this sport is second to none. He doesn’t let anything get in the way of his dreams and making it a reality.”
Surely, Childress thought Kyle was getting in the way of those dreams and that’s why
“Hopefully Kyle (Busch) and myself will both end up learning something from this. Thank you all very much. Talk to you later. That’s it.”
Oh, sure Richard Childress did all the right things Friday morning. A hastily arranged press conference led to a statement, more pomp
“There’s been a lot of support,” said Busch when questioned on any advice given after the public scuffle between driver and owner led to a $150,000 fine for Childress. “I’ve got a lot of friends I talk to in the garage area. Whether they’re crew member or team members from other teams – even team members from the RCR (Richard Childress Racing) camp that are my friends.”
“I’ve been able to have good conversations and talk to people outside of the race car.”
That calm but confident “dig in your heels” mentality seemed to permeate through Busch’s press conference Friday, stoic in the face of several questions over incidents that have overshadowed his last month on the Cup circuit. Between the speeding ticket last month, probation resulting from contact with Kevin Harvick and this latest incident the “new Kyle” maturity that seemed to become a majority opinion amongst the garage area has faded. Instead, the rule of thumb Friday when questioned on the aggressive driver’s personality was twofold: people kept their mouth shut or simply said, “That’s just Kyle.”
“Yeah, it’s different for every driver, but in my particular case, I feel like once you get out on the racetrack, or in the car and put your helmet on, out on the racetrack, that’s where your priorities lie and where your focus is. So to me, it doesn’t seem all that challenging.”
Kyle, do you have a respect issue with other drivers and teams, and more importantly to you feel like you need the respect of other drivers and teams in the garage area to be successful?
Uh, I can’t answer the first part for ya; you’d have to ask everybody else. But as far as being respected in the garage area, certainly; it makes your day a little bit easier, makes your job a little bit easier. I’ve been able to have good conversations or talk to people outside the race car, driver intros, stuff like that… whether that’s the case that they’re not being true to my face, I don’t know… I can’t read that, I’m not in people’s minds. So you’ll just… if you’re mad at me, you’ll have to tell me.
Yeah, it’s the whole schedule is a little weird… you come in to today, and you get first practice, the first practice is going to base your time for qualifying. And then you go into the second practice, which is later in the day about when the race is going to end. There’s going to be a lot of grip, especially when the track starts cooling off about 4:30 – 5:00 time so we’ll see how it pans out. You come in on Saturday, run one lap and then wait until the race on Sunday — that, to me is a little weird. To me, I like the schedule a lot better… if I had an opinion, you run some race laps to get yourself acclimated to the track. You switch over to qualifying trim, you make some laps, you qualify that afternoon, that evening, whatever it might be. The next day you have two practice sessions solely devoted to your race car and what you might need to work on for Sunday. To me, that’s a more productive schedule.
I’m not sure there’s really any hats to be worn here. The black hat deal, the Dillon type thing, I’m not sure it did a whole lot to bring that back upon myself. I feel like I’ve acted with the utmost respect with every case that’s come my way and been thrown in front of me and try to do it with dignity and class. I feel like that comes from people wearing white hats, not black.
Well, the first part of the question, what brought it up is me giving a congratulatory bump to Joey Coulter is what tipped him over the edge there. I don’t recall anytime, a face-to-face conversation where Richard did tell me if you touch another one of my cars, I’m gonna come find you. I don’t know if it was ever said to me, but it was never relayed to me. And you know, the second part was what?
As an owner, if he came to me and was so upset about it, I would have offered him money to fix it. I’m an owner in this sport, I know there’s going to be torn up equipment sometimes, and I will say if I didn’t roll out of the throttle, we both would have crashed off of turn 4. But the kid did what he was supposed to do on the last lap there, we raced each other for 18 laps and I was having fun with him, trying to keep him back and I thought I had it done. And then he got on my inside down the backstretch there and pulled a slide job, it was through 3 and 4 and kind of squeezed me up there. I had two options; lift and let him beat me, which is fine – we’re racing for 5th in the Truck Series, it wasn’t for a win – or crash the both of us. It wasn’t necessary for any of that.
No. (Secret Fines)
“I don’t know. That’s not for my discretion, to be honest with you. That’s for NASCAR to depose. That’s a great question for them… but for myself, I don’t know, I need an instance of what you’re explaining besides all the information you’ve given me, the question you’ve asked I can’t really comment further.”
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