Kyle Busch's intentional wreck of Ron Hornaday has resulted in the first NASCAR suspension for an on-track action toward another competitor since 2002.
NASCAR President Mike Helton announced Saturday morning the Joe Gibbs Racing driver has been parked "for the balance of the weekend," meaning he will not be able to participate in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race or today's Nationwide race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Michael McDowell will drive the No. 18 car for Gibbs in the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday; Denny Hamlin will race Busch's Nationwide car later today.
Busch, in a moment of rage after earlier contact with Hornaday during Friday's Camping World Truck Series race, spun the veteran driver head-first into the wall and crushed both his truck and his team's championship hopes. NASCAR informed Busch and team owner Joe Gibbs of its decision in an early-morning meeting today at the track.
"Albeit very rare, we do have incidents that have carried over to the balance of the weekend like this one has," Helton said.
Busch joins Kevin Harvick (Martinsville Truck race, 2002) and Robby Gordon (Montreal Nationwide race, 2007) as drivers whose on-track actions have gotten them suspended for a Sprint Cup race in the last decade. Gordon's suspension, though, was because of actions toward NASCAR – not another driver.
After the wreck, Hornaday immediately called for Busch's suspension – but such punishments have been unheard of in the "Have At It, Boys" Era of NASCAR, where drivers police themselves.
Even in other high-profile incidents – such as when Carl Edwards flipped Brad Keselowski at Atlanta in 2010 – NASCAR has only issued probation and the occasional fine.
Officials have seemed to be largely OK with competitors handling their own business. But apparently, Busch crossed the line in their eyes.
"We'll know it when we see it," Helton said. "We saw it last night."
Sunday's race will be the first without Busch since 2004, when he ran a partial Cup schedule before joining the series full-time in 2005. He joins his older brother, Kurt, as the only Chase drivers to ever miss a playoff race.