Blog Entry

Idle Thoughts: Busch and NASCAR at crossroads

Posted on: November 8, 2011 3:45 pm
Edited on: November 8, 2011 5:17 pm
By Pete Pistone

Image Detail
(Where Busch's career goes after his Texas behavior will define his place in NASCAR history)

Everyone deals with a defining moment at some point. 

Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway there were two. 

Both Kyle Busch and NASCAR made decisions in the Lone Star State that will have major implications to their futures. 

When Busch decided to extract revenge on Ron Hornaday after their early race truck race skirmish he put his career at a crossroads. 

The talented but mercurial Busch must now decide going forward if he’ll use the experience and its ramifications as a tool to become a full-fledged, championship caliber driver or NASCAR’s version of a hockey goon. 

There’s never been a question about Busch’s abilities behind the wheel of a racecar or truck. His winning record across all three of NASCAR’s top divisions is truly remarkable especially when the time span of what he’s accomplished is factored into the equation. 

Busch is on pace to break records on the racetrack that had appeared to be untouchable before he came along. 

However the biggest hurdle that continues to haunt Busch is his inability to harness the emotions that sooner or later always get the best of him. 

This was supposed to be the year that Busch eliminated that reputation and took his game to the next level to become a legitimate Sprint Cup Series championship contender.

He scored a series-high four wins in the regular season and came into the Chase as the number one seed, determined to prove his detractors wrong that predicted another meltdown was on the horizon. 

Busch’s playoff hopes were over nearly before they started with a strong of poor finishes and mediocre results that took him from the title picture in short order. 

And then came last Friday night. 

Perhaps it was the frustration of what happened to his title aspirations or the incredible dislike he has for all things Kevin Harvick that caused Busch to get into the altercation with Hornaday, who was piloting one of the KHI entries in Friday night’s race. But whatever the reason may have been, Busch snapped like he’s never snapped before – which is saying a lot. 

It’s impossible to know whether or not NASCAR’s decision to sit Busch for the rest of Friday night’s race and ultimately the remainder of the Texas weekend was based on just the egregious nature of the single act or a compilation of his body of work.

NASCAR’s comments in the aftermath of the official word that Busch was being parked for the Texas Nationwide and Sprint Cup races leads one to believe the driver’s rap sheet also helped drive the decision

The sanctioning body added to the parking – only the third time in more than a decade such action has been taken – by fining Busch $50,000 and placing him on probation through the end of the year. 

While NASCAR may be done with its punishment, Busch still faces the decisions to be made by team owner Joe Gibbs and sponsor M&M’s/Mars. Both issued responses and statements in the last few days that carry the possibility of more disciplinary action. 

So Busch continues to twist in the wind for now with his only public reaction a hastily prepared apology that was distributed in the dead of last Saturday night. 

Only Busch can chart the course from here and while I still wouldn’t be surprised to see Gibbs or M&Ms sit him out for another weekend or maybe the remainder of the year, it would be shocking to see him released and looking for another ride. 

Busch is no different than any other talented yet emotional athlete that tests the boundaries of their team and sport. In nearly every case of a temperamental star that despite their headaches produces results, the athlete remains employed. 

As will Busch, albeit with some major choices to be made in his career.

But NASCAR also has a choice to make. After creating the “Wild West” atmosphere of the “Boys Have at It” era, the sanctioning body has now made its statement regarding where the line is when drivers go too far. 

For nearly two years, NASCAR has reminded fans and competitors they’d know it “when they see it” in terms of the policy’s boundaries being broken. 

They didn’t see it when Carl Edwards came back on track more than a hundred laps down to turn Brad Keselowski at Atlanta. They didn’t see it when Edwards turned Keselowski at the start-finish line of a Nationwide race in St. Louis, wadded up about a dozen innocent other drivers in the aftermath and then bragged about it in victory lane. They didn’t see it when Busch put Keselowski into the wall in a Nationwide race at Bristol only to make the same move on Elliott Sadler in a truck race last August. They also didn’t see it during races that turned into demolition derbies in Sonoma and Martinsville. 

But NASCAR has seen it now and Busch is the example.

What we’ll all see next going forward is a very good question indeed.

For more NASCAR news, rumors and analysis, follow @PPistone on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed. 

More NASCAR coverage
Category: Auto Racing

Since: Jan 6, 2008
Posted on: November 11, 2011 12:18 pm

Idle Thoughts: Busch and NASCAR at crossroads

Richard Petty won all those races because there were a hundred races run every year and his cars were technologically superior to everyone else's. I think even Sam Hornish could have won championships with his cars.

Since: Apr 1, 2011
Posted on: November 11, 2011 9:22 am

Idle Thoughts: Busch and NASCAR at crossroads

go sharks you are so right for years watch the so called intimidator wreck everyone on the track with no remorse or consenquences
kyle busch is quite possibly the best driver this sport has ever seen... dont mean to take away from any of the past legends but lets face it they didnt have all the bs lucky dogs and other stuff now... but they also raced in a time where more horsepower meant you won.... nowdays cars are equal its all about driving skills.... just my opinion....... i used to dislike kyle busch but dam that kid can drive his butt off.... those that dont like him do so cause he repeatedly whoops there fav drivers...................

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: November 11, 2011 8:26 am

Idle Thoughts: Busch and NASCAR at crossroads

Go Sharks I never meant for my comment to minimize what Petty did, but after rereading what I wrote it does do that. Petty was my driver for years untill Dale came along. I have allmost as much 43 memoribila as I do 3.  My treasured items are the ones signed by them naturally. I actually got Dale to sign his rookie card and Petty to sign his 6th championship card, both signed them at Talladega in 1996.

Since: Oct 28, 2011
Posted on: November 9, 2011 8:57 pm

Idle Thoughts: Busch and NASCAR at crossroads

  Nascar runs 36 point races a year in the cup series. Back in 1967 when Richard Petty won his record 27 wins in a season (10 in a row as well) he ran a total of 48 races (ONLY 12 MORE THAN TODAY'S SEASON). Plus back in the 1970's and early 1980's Nascar had scaled back their schedule to as low as 30 races in a season. It's time for today's fans to stop trying to minimize what Richard Petty accomplished in his career. Look at the all-time victory list in NASCAR history and you'll see that while Richard Petty drove he beat the greatest drivers in NASCAR history head to head. The reason Richard Petty's numbers are untouchable is because he drove for 35 years. I can only imagine what his stats would look like if he had the benefits of THE CHASE FORMAT, LUCKY DOG FREE LAP BACK and THE WAVE AROUND RULE and even THE GREEN-WHITE-CHECKER rule. If you say RICHARD PETTY had no competition when he raced I think you need to ask DAVID PEARSON, BOBBY ALLISON, DARRELL WALTRIP, CALE YARBOROUGH, NED JARRETT, JUNIOR JOHNSON, BILL ELLIOTT, RUSTY WALLACE, DALE EARNHARDT SR..........just to name a few......

  As for Kyle Busch and his situation, I agree that what he did was wrong by taking out Hornaday. It's funny though how it was ok for 'ole #3 Earnhardt Sr. to drive with reckless abandon every week. Sunday after Sunday Nascar would turn a blind eye to his antics, except for the 5 lap penalty he got at the 1988 Coke 600 for intentionally taking out Geoff Bodine. Nascar needs a driver that is either loved or hated by the fans. Darrell Waltrip served that role in the 70's and 80's, Earnhardt in the 80's & 90's, Gordon in the 90's & 2000's. Besides Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus I can't think of a better guy to play the Vllian on Sundays than Kyle Busch. Lets face it, Kyle Busch is the only thing keeping Nascar remotely watchable these days. Without him and his mouth and actions we would have far less viewers and even fewer ticket buyers than we do now at the tracks.....

Since: Sep 16, 2006
Posted on: November 9, 2011 7:14 pm

Idle Thoughts: Busch and NASCAR at crossroads

Mickey if your out there somewhere you can correct me if I am wrong on this because I am quite sure you would know the right answer. If I am not mistaken, back when NASCAR had the Grand National races they were running allmost twice as many races every year. thats how Petty has so many victories. They changed it so the drivers would not be driving as many races due to what I will call road rage. I think that NASCAR needs to limit how many races a driver can be in each year, all 3 series combined. Bush is driving in a bunch of races every year, after a while all the banging around and wrecking has to get to you, especially someone as driven as Kyle Busch. They need to close the truck and nationwide series to cup drivers except maybe 4 appearances in each series for the year. 

Since: Nov 9, 2011
Posted on: November 9, 2011 4:15 pm

Idle Thoughts: Busch and NASCAR at crossroads

Suspend him for the rest of the year. What he did wasn't only careless, it was immature and dangerous as well. If I never saw him in a race car again it wouldn't be too soon.

Since: Aug 17, 2010
Posted on: November 9, 2011 2:01 pm

Idle Thoughts: Busch and NASCAR at crossroads

Why do people keep crashing Keselowski?
It probably has to do with him being Keselowski......he can be overly aggressive at times and it would come at the wrong moments during a race...and plus once you get bad blood with another driver its hard to make amends during the season.

Since: Jan 4, 2011
Posted on: November 9, 2011 10:57 am

Idle Thoughts: Busch and NASCAR at crossroads

Keep Cup drivers out of the other series and the problem of somebody not running for a Championship wrecking someone who is goes away.  I guess that's far to simple for NASCAR to understand.

Since: May 17, 2011
Posted on: November 9, 2011 7:19 am

Idle Thoughts: Busch and NASCAR at crossroads

Why do people keep crashing Keselowski?

Since: Aug 21, 2008
Posted on: November 9, 2011 12:12 am

The Bush brothers are both idiots!

Let me see if I got this stright.  Kyle, you wrecked a guy on purpose under caution in a truck race?  I mean, it's not like it was the last lap of the Sprint Cup Series for the championship.  You wrecked a guy under caution in the freaking truck race!!! And why?  Because he raced you hard, got lose, and got into you.  What a freaking loser you are.  In the history of NASCAR you are going to act like this has never happened to you before, to anyone else before, or that you have never done the same to someone else.  I dislike many athleetes out there, BUT I TRULY HATE YOU AND YOUR BROTHER - FREAKING SPOILED BRATS THAT THINK THEY OWN THE WORLD.

What was it that your brother told the cops when he got pulled over in Phoenix?  oh yeah... he said, "do you know who I am?"   YOU BOTH ARE LOSERS, YOUR PARENTS SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF HOW YOU TURNED OUT, oh yeah, I forgot, you're millionaires, so your entitled........  My bad!

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or