When NASCAR officials meet early this week to mull over any potential penalties to Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick in the aftermath of Saturday night's post-race incident at Darlington Raceway, they should ask themselves: What would I have done differently?
I've watched the replay several times and reviewed both drivers' reactions since the end of the Southern 500. And personally, I would have done the exact same thing as both Harvick and Busch.
If I were Kevin Harvick, I'd be incensed. I would believe Busch intentionally wrecked me on the straightaway after contact with me already took out my teammate, Clint Bowyer – which would make me doubly mad. So naturally, I'd want to kick Busch's ass.
After the race, I'd try to get at Busch just like Harvick did. My adrenaline would be flowing and I'd be filled with rage. Knowing the NASCAR policies basically allow for the boys to have at it – as Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton did at Texas last year – I'd have my fist prepare for a date with Busch's face.
When Busch wrecked my car into the pit road wall after I got out, I'd get even madder. Since he could have hurt someone on my team, I would now need to defend my guys by trying to get into Busch's hauler.
I agree with each one of Harvick's actions.
If I were Kyle Busch, I'd do everything I could to stay out of a post-race incident. Not because I was scared of Harvick, but because I'm trying to win a championship and I realize that getting into some sort of physical fight could draw a penalty. So when Harvick blocked me in on pit road, I'd try to back up – as Busch did.
When I realized that I'd blown out reverse gear – as I absolutely believe was the case with Busch – I'd wait until Harvick got out of his car. And if he approached me, I'd try to push his car forward and drive off so I could get away from the situation and back to my hauler in hopes that cooler heads would prevail. How would I know that the car was going to suddenly take off like that and turn into the wall? That wasn't intentional.
Again, it's not because I'm a wuss and I'm afraid of Harvick. It's because I'm trying to stay out of controversy this year and not do things that will hurt my team and leave lingering issues that I have to deal with in the weeks to come.
So I don't disagree with a single one of Busch's actions, either.
If I were NASCAR, I'd look at the policies we have in place and ask if we needed to send a message to these two competitors that this situation could not continue any further.
I would be focused on what happened after the race – our on-track policy for racing incidents is mostly self-policing, so we wouldn't make any ruling on Busch's frontstretch hook of Harvick. More than "punishing" or "penalizing" Harvick and Busch, I would wonder whether we needed to put a ruling in place that would warn the drivers to stay away from each other for a little bit and let things cool down.
The only thing I'd say was questionable in the post-race altercation was Busch's punting of Harvick's car on pit road; I wouldn't want to see anyone get hurt in the future as the result of an ongoing feud. But Busch's explanation of losing reverse gear makes sense, so I'd simply decide to use probation as a deterrent for a few weeks.
I would put both Busch and Harvick on three weeks' probation – as NASCAR did with Carl Edwards after the Atlanta flip of Brad Keselowski last year – in order not to completely quash the drivers' feud but still take the immediate post-Darlington emotions out of the mix.
What would you do if you were Harvick, Busch and NASCAR?