Race Weekend Central

Full Throttle – Kyle Busch faces the music

Kyle Busch had his day in court on Tuesday and pled guilty to operating a motor vehicle at 128 mph in a 45 mph zone and no contest to reckless driving. In return he was sentenced to revocation of his driver’s license for 45 days with no driving privileges, 30 days in jail suspended, one year of unsupervised probation, a $1,000 fine and 30 hours of community service. The revocation of driving privileges does not preclude Busch from competing in the Sprint Cup series as a state issued driver’s license is not required for participants to race.

Busch has been vilified and supported from both sides of the fence since he was written up for this offense. There were not only Kyle haters chiming in over his perceived preferential treatment but also people who had no dog in the fight who just view the act as a crass, arrogant act by a petulant punk His supporters and those people who simply view the government as a thorn in their sides who are always trying to put more restriction on the populace of the nation felt Kyle was being singled out due to the fact that he was a famous race car driver and was being treated more stringently than other people who had done similar violations. In the end it probably fell somewhere in between.

Many times during the year people on television and in the print medias (including the Internet) have extolled the virtues of “New Kyle”. He’s shown surprising levels of maturity in situations that, in the past, would have seen him stomping off, making smart comments or simply refusing to speak altogether. This year he has handled situations like losing at Watkins Glen with the aplomb that so many have wanted from him since he came into the series. Whether that has come from the calming influence of being a married man or simply a revelation after all of these years that you catch more flies with honey than vinegar, it seems to be a more common occurrence than tantrums.

While off the track Kyle has seemed more measured and mature, on the track he’s still being as aggressive and daring as he ever was, but less than desirable cars are now driven to the maximum of their abilities and not over them, which has allowed Busch to ascend to the top of the point standings with only three races to go before the Chase. If he is able to maintain that kind of level headedness once the final 10 races are underway he very well may give Jimmie Johnson a run for his money in the race to Homestead’s big stage.

That maturity might have also played a role in Busch’s sentencing today. Busch was contrite and forthcoming with the judge, accepting responsibility for the speeding infraction. His lawyer noted that, there has been a history of people in Iredell county being pulled over for similar offenses and they have all been offered plea agreements by the district attorney. While people have claimed that Busch was receiving preferential treatment the history of the county would look to be the exact opposite. Busch seems to have been held to a higher standard than others, including a felon who was pulled over for the exact same speed and faced the judge before Busch’s day in court. Busch’s lawyer noted that the other defendant was allowed to walk away with $300 in court costs for speeding at 128 mph and reckless driving, which Busch never admitted to.

Over the next week or so, the average life cycle of a news story, there will certainly be hundreds of thousands of opinions posted all over the Internet and the world about how right or wrong this decision was and the overall ramifications of Busch’s escapades, but the words of someone who has been affected first hand by driving ramifications speak volumes. During the Parade of Power at Charlotte Motor Speedway earlier this month, Doug Herbert was part of the lineup of drivers present and he spoke to Frontstretch about Kyle’s efforts in supporting B.R.A.K.E.S., Herbert’s foundation that he started after he lost both of his sons in an auto accident. The foundation puts on driving schools designed to make kids better drivers.

“Kyle has been a big help with the B.R.A.K.E.S. deal, even before his speeding ticket.” Herbert said. “Since then we’ve had a meeting and you can tell Kyle gets it. He realizes he’s a role model and people look up to him. He really understands how he is supposed to be.”

Kyle Busch had his day in court and he’s going to be serving his penance to society over the next year. Whether that will make a difference in what people think of him or how he acts only time will tell, but for now this chapter in his life has a detailed plan to come to an end. There’s no question what he did was wrong and he’s apologized for it. Now he has some service to perform for the community and then his debt will be paid and he can stick to going fast ON the race track.

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