Regardless of one's opinions of the current feuds in NASCAR and their opinion of the drivers - Ryan Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch - involved, there is one thing all should agree on: the hook maneuver employed by Montoya in Richmond and Busch this past Saturday in Darlington has absolutely no place in auto racing.
There is no cheaper, sorrier move in racing than hanging a left into another driver's right-rear quarter panel in an attempt to turn them head-on into the outside wall. Regardless of how safe stock cars may be in this day and age, it is a bush league maneuver that should have earned both drivers an early exit from their respective race and a significant fine.
NASCAR can say "Boys, have at it," all they want, but this goes well beyond the bounds of the boys having at it. If a driver is frustrated with another driver and feels he has to use his car in order to take his frustrations out, he should rub the guy's door, either of his front fenders, or his rear bumper. Trying to hook him head-on into the wall, regardless of what he has done or what the angry driver thinks he has done, is ridiculous and should not be tolerated in any situation under any circumstances on any type of race track.
There were calls for a stiff penalty, even a suspension, after Montoya himself was a victim of the hook at Texas Motor Speedway in November 2008. The aggressor in that situation, David Gilliland, was parked for the remainder of the race and widely blasted by racing pundits. Granted, in that case, the hook was successful to an extent: Montoya crashed, but so did Gilliland.
Newman was able to get his car turned back to the left and back into the wall after Montoya's attempt to crash him at Richmond, while Harvick's car slid into the wall with the right side. That each attempt failed, however, is irrelevant. In some cases, intent alone is deserving of a harsh penalty, and this is one of those cases.
No one has ever accused Busch nor Montoya, immensely talented as they both are, of being emotionally stable when on the receiving end of car contact, intentional or otherwise. Still, each driver crossed far over the line in exhibiting their frustration. No matter how talented a driver may be, moves like the ones used in Richmond and Darlington speak volumes.
Whether they should be suspended or not is for someone else to decide, but both Montoya and Busch should at the least be significantly lighter in the pocket and point column as they head to Dover this week. If either of them pulls that kind of a stunt again, then they should sit a race.