What is your reaction to the speeding ticket?
"I'm certainly sorry for my actions and for my lack of judgment. This is something that I can take and learn from and hopefully move forward and not let happen again."
How do you look back on the speeding incident?
"I'm certainly sorry that it happened and my actions led me to speed. It was a lack of judgment and all I can do is apologize to the public, my friends, my fans, my sponsors and everybody, look at this experience as a learning experience, and to move forward."
Is it difficult to have a learning experience in the public eye?
"It's certainly challenging sometimes with things you have to think about and of course actions that you may cause yourself. Thankfully, I've got some good people around me that can help me through these experiences and help me learn from them. Take the good from it and take the bad from it and just be able to apply that for later on down the road."
Can you make a case for yourself?
"I'm sorry I'm not the jurisdiction to make a case. I leave that to the court systems and everything else like that. This matter will be handled through that as best as we can handle it and as best as the authorities decide to handle it. I have the utmost respect for the authorities across the United States of America that try to keep all of us safe every day. Of course, being Memorial Day weekend with all the men and women serving our country to keep us safe as well too. It's not in my place to decide what does or does not happen."
Has Joe Gibbs Racing given you any penalties?
"We have certainly discussed some things. We're working through the process of that now and looking at what might be done later on down the road."
Have you personally spoken with your team owner, your sponsors and your neighbors about the speeding incident?
"I have certainly had discussions with Mr. Coach Gibbs (team owner) as well as Joe Gibbs Racing and my sponsors as well too. It's just a matter of showing your utmost respect for them and what they do for you. That they believe in you to do what you can in order to represent them well and obviously I had a lack in judgment and just made a mistake. I'm sorry for making that mistake, but as far as any of the people that have made comments or anything like that, I don't have a relationship with any of those people. Unfortunately, I don't go door-to-door knocking on the door and commenting to them. All I can do is say my piece here and let it be."
How much have you thought about the potential of what could have happened on Tuesday?
"There's if, ands or buts to a lot of different things in life. Fortunately, there was no one hurt, but that doesn't make any kind of excuse for what happened and for my lack in judgment and for what I did. Like I said, there's a lot of processes to be thought about here. There's some learning experiences to be taken from this and the best I can do is just try to move along past it for this weekend and take my course of action during the week in what might lie ahead."
What did you mean when you said the Lexus was, 'just a toy?'
"Well it was a car that was on loan to me from Lexus and it wasn't that it was a toy, it's a high performance vehicle and that shouldn't be taken lightly. Should be driven with caution. Obviously, I didn't have caution and I had a lack in judgment and there's probably a reason why on TV commercials and such they always show at the bottom, professional driver, closed course. Mine was not that. Again, I apologize sincerely to all those affected and that all I can do is try to make sure it doesn't happen again and that I make sure that lack of judgment doesn't overcome me."
“Talking with Kyle (Busch) about it, I feel like he definitely understands the mistake that he made and that speed is supposed to be saved for here at the race track and putting on a good show. All of us drivers have a responsibility as being role models to what we can teach our youth on the roadways. There are posted speed limits and rules and laws; that’s what we have to do. Whatever comes of it, he has his court date and things will be ironed out. He’ll learn from the situation and be a better person from it. I think I was 26-years old when I got put through my big episode and it definitely changes the way that you look at things. There’s a responsibility that all of us have.”
SHOULD NASCAR BE INVOLVED IN KYLE BUSCH’S TUESDAY INCIDENT WITH PENALTIES OR ANY KIND OF CORRECTIVE SITUATION?
“I think consistency is the key in whatever other issues that have taken place off the track. There should be a precedent there and that’s how they engage and interact. I don’t know how to really form an opinion on that. You’ve got to get into the fine print of the rule book. I think I’m learning a little bit through this as well. You don’t need a valid driver’s license to compete, is that correct? It’s in there and when you have leagues and players unions and things there are penalties that are usually passed along and make sense because you are part of a league, we’re not in that situation. I don’t know. I don’t have an answer and I’m kind of watching and learning as we go here just to see what it is.”
IN REGARDS TO KYLE BUSCH, WITH WHAT YOU GUYS DO FOR A LIVING DO YOU GUYS JUST KIND OF MAKE THESE WEIRD DECISIONS SOME TIMES?
“Yeah, we as drivers aren’t necessarily wired the same but I’d have to say anybody that buys a high performance vehicle gets in it and stands on the gas. Maybe not in the same situation but that’s why you buy whatever car. I’ve always joked with my friends and I have a collection of old cars that I cruise around in because I’ve always felt if I have an exotic sports car I would be doing stupid things and I don’t need to do that. I drove my ’49 Chevy Step-side pickup here today and I don’t think I broke 65 on the way up, just kind of cruising with the windows down and enjoyed the ride. It’s tempting especially when we have the skill sets that we do as drivers and you get a high performance car and you just want to see how it stacks up. Man I guess everybody that has a high performance car stands on the throttle at some point. I’m not trying to justify what he did, but we can all look at ourselves in the mirror and know that we’ve wondered what it felt like to stand on the gas pedal.”
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO GO 200 MILES PER HOUR OUT HERE AND HAVE TO GO BACK HOME AND DRIVE 35 MILES PER HOUR IN YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD OR WHEN YOU GET STUCK IN TRAFFIC?
“For me there is certainly a huge sensation of speed on the track and some tracks like Darlington or Dover really exaggerate that sensation. But for me, it’s about passing someone. As long as I’m going by someone, if they are doing 35 and I’m doing 37 I seem to be pretty content there and haven’t had many issues with the law.”
DO YOU THINK THERE SHOULD BE A NASCAR SANCTION AGAINST A DRIVER WHO WAS CHARGED, AS KYLE BUSCH WAS CHARGED WITH SPEEDING THIS WEEK?
“If you don’t have to have a driver’s license to compete in the series, then what happens on the street has no affect as to what happens on the race track in my opinion. That’s what you hold a driver’s license for. If he’s charged criminally, then that’s a different situation, right? Versus being charged with a driver-related issue. Maybe that makes sense, I don’t know.”
BACK TO THE KYLE SITUATION. WHAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT IN REGARDS TO CRIMINAL AS OPPOSED TO A LICENSE, AN ACTION IS AN ACTION? SECONDLY THERE IS A LOT OF RUSH ON THE PUBLIC’S BEHALF FOR SOME KIND OF JUDGEMENT, SOME KIND OF ACTION UPON THIS, DOES IT NEED TO GO THROUGH THE COURTS AND WAIT OR DOES SOMETHING NEED TO BE HAPPENING UNDERSTANDING THAT YOU COULD BE IN A SITUATION LIKE THAT, NOT SAYING YOU WOULD, BUT FATE, BUT IF SOMETHING HAPPENED, IT WOULD BE COMING DOWN ON YOU?
“My point about the license part of it is if you don’t have to have a driver’s license to compete in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, then, no matter what, it’s DMV (Department of Motor Vehicle) related in my opinion. If he would have clobbered a mail box at 128, then that is a Federal situation. There are different ways of looking at it is my point. If something was to happen to it…it is just a private car incident that has no affect on his eligibility to drive a Sprint Cup car or a Nationwide car. But, to me, it is a very gray area in reference to the police officer and what he did as to how he got away as clean as he did. I think that is probably your judgment question. If it was you running 128 in a 45, would he have treated you the same way? Every officer has to answer that question a different way depending on who he is dealing with.”
THE NEXT THING PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT WILL BE THE TEAM OR SPONSORS, SHOULD THEY ACT BEFORE IT GOES THROUGH THE COURT PROCESS OR SHOULD HE BE ALLOWED TO GO THROUGH THE COURT PROCESS AND WHAT’S DETERMINED THERE BEFORE ANY KIND OF DISCIPLINE TAKES PLACE?
“It’s just as you said. It’s a judgment situation where I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. In multiple people’s eyes, is Joe Gibbs going to react to it in the same way that M&M’s or Interstate or anybody else does, I don’t know. That’s not for me to judge. I believe that he made a big mistake, he openly admitted that he made a big mistake from what I read although it sounded like somebody else wrote it and not him. We’re supposed to be professional race car drivers and by being professional race car drivers we don’t make stupid mistakes like that on the road. That’s the way I look at it.”
Jeff GordonDo you think NASCAR should penalize Kyle Busch for his speeding violation the other day?
"No, I don't. You know, I think it's pretty clear if they feel like it's detrimental to the sport, then maybe they should or could. But in my opinion that's not detrimental to the sport. I think it's more detrimental to Kyle than anything else. I think it's something that should be handled separately away from the sport."
Is there an urge for somebody in your profession to just want to drive fast all the time no matter where you're at?
"I've always kind of had the approach of I get it out of my system on the weekends. I mean, don't get me wrong, I don't want you to think I'm perfect. I've been speeding before. But certainly the way I look at it today as a parent, I look at things different.
"I do think of the 'what if's.' I told somebody this the other day. If I'm going down a fairly narrow country road and I see houses and yards, I think of that ball running out in the street and that kid chasing after it. That's because I'm a parent. You think a little bit more responsibly."
HAVE YOU EVER RECEIVED A SPEEDING TICKET?
“That’s a loaded question (laughing). In my younger days I have driven a little faster, probably, than I should have a time or two. I never got pulled over or never got a ticket for doing that, but the fastest I’ve gotten stopped is maybe 85 or 90 – something like that. I think I got pulled over going 90 out in California. I was on my way to the desert one time, going through the desert with tumbleweeds and was on Highway 8 or something like that. That was probably the fastest I ever got a ticket for, but there is obviously a time and a place for going a little bit faster than we should at times. You just have to watch your P’s and Q’s.”
DO YOU WATCH IT MORE CAREFULLY BECAUSE YOU’RE A NASCAR DRIVER?
“I do. I will always make sure I take advantage of the nine miles an hour over the speed limit, but, beyond that, you have to be careful how fast you go. Certainly, you don’t want to cause an accident because that’s probably the worst thing to have in the newspaper being a NASCAR driver, so you have to take a little precaution when you’re on the road around other cars.”
"My first reaction is I was wondering if he was in jail. My second reaction is, when I heard where it was, I thought it was probably a little extreme for that road, but, other than that, I didn’t think about it. I’m glad somebody didn’t get hurt.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“Sometimes you go a little fast, even away from the race track I guess. I’ve been guilty of the same thing myself just been lucky enough not to get caught.”
“I don’t really know if I got that fast, I didn’t know if we had enough straight road in North Carolina to get going that quick, but, apparently there is a piece somewhere (LAUGHS).”
“I think some people are their own worst enemy when it comes to being responsible as a person or as a business person or anything that comes with life’s responsibilities. For me, they won’t even let me drive down the highway because I drive five miles per hour over the speed limit and it tends to take us a lot longer to get to places. Since I’ve been about 16 or 17 years old, I haven’t been into really driving fast down the highway or anything reckless on the road. It’s not really the place to do that. I don’t really know how to answer that to be honest with you because I’ve never driven a vehicle 120 plus down the highway. It could put a lot of people in a bad situation and I think Newton’s article probably touched the outcomes of how things could work this week.”
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