KANSAS CITY, KS - JUNE 05: Team owner Richard Childress walks away from the NASCAR hauler after speaking to officials prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series STP 400 at Kansas Speedway on June 5, 2011 in Kansas City, Kansas. Childress reportedly had an altercation with Kyle Busch after yesterday's truck race. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Richard Childress Altercation With Kyle Busch Results In NASCAR Penalty, No Suspension

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NASCAR Got The Richard Childress Penalty Right

NASCAR's announced $150,000 fine and year-long probation for team owner Richard Childress set off a firestorm of criticism from fans and media alike. Earlier in the day, our own Jeff Gluck said NASCAR flubbed the call and made the sanctioning body to appear "clueless, out of touch and biased toward certain individuals."

I have to respectfully disagree with Gluck's comments. In my opinion, I believe NASCAR got this call just right.

NASCAR is a sport built and promoted by the unique character of the individual competitors, the passion they show on and off the race track, and the emotions those competitors stir in the fans that follow the sport.

One of the most historic moments that is often shown, almost idolized in a way, is the epic ending to the 1979 Daytona 500. There some of the sport’s biggest names, Allison and Yarborough, not only go toe-to-toe, but get in a knock-down drag-out fist fight on the backstretch – live on national television. Not only is that clip shown on a nearly weekly basis, it is featured in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

So, is this the only incident where NASCAR drivers or teams have come to blows on the track or in the garage? Certainly not.

The 1989 Winston All-Star Race saw one of the biggest brawls in NASCAR history. This confrontation did not happen in the private confines of the garage area, but right in front of the public as Rusty Wallace’s race winning car was kicked by one of Darrell Waltrip’s crew members.

The ensuing brawl saw crew members punching, kicking, biting, slamming each other up against an ambulance – you get the picture. The fight brought attention to the sport and, just like the 1979 fight, became NASCAR legend and was shown on repeat on numerous highlight reels.

Now, are fines for fighting uncommon? Not at all.

In 1996, Jimmy Spencer was fined $10,000 for trying to fight Wally Dallenbach after an on-track incident at Dover. Following that same race, Kyle Petty was fined $5,000 and Michael Waltrip fined $2,000 for threatening each other. No blows thrown, just trying to fight and threatening each other.

Fast-forward to 2002. Kevin Harvick bounds over Greg Biffle’s car at Bristol and grabs him by the fire suit after the race. Harvick was fined and placed on probation, but two weeks later he spun out Coy Gibbs in a Nationwide Series race and was parked by NASCAR. After beating and banging for a number of laps, then spinning Gibbs, Harvick was parked and then suspended by NASCAR for that weekend’s race at Martinsville. This was an incident where Harvick had been involved in a very public physical confrontation where no punches were thrown, then violated his probation shortly thereafter.

We then return to Jimmy Spencer. He and Kurt Busch waged an epic battle on and off the track in 2003. Busch called Spencer a washed up has-been and after a race in Michigan Spencer punched Busch in the face. That incident resulted in a week-long suspension for Spencer.

Heck, Lee Petty once got into a fight with Tiny Lund prior to a race in Greensboro, N.C. that dragged sons Richard and Maurice into the fracas. That incident ended when Lee’s wife hit Lund on the head with her purse – made all the heavier with .38 pistol inside.

Again, I emphasize, fighting in NASCAR is nothing new. Raw emotion and passion for the sport is what drives the competitors each and every week, and sometimes those emotions get the best of them.

So, back to the topic at hand. Should NACAR have come down harder on Childress for his incident with Kyle Busch? I think not. Sure, Childress is a wealthy team owner that will essentially make a $150,000 donation to the NASCAR Foundation. Of course his actions are not what you want to see a team owner do in today’s sport. Yet, you have to consider Childress’ point of view for a moment.

One of the only team owners that truly stretches back to NASCAR’s past, Childress was perhaps the closest in the garage with the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. Fans admire ‘The Intimidator’ for his toughness and refusal to back down from anyone. When someone had a lesson to learn in the garage, Earnhardt was usually the one to teach them.

There is no doubt Busch is one of the most talented drivers in NASCAR, yet he is also a driver that polarizes fans and causes controversy in the garage. This season alone, Busch has had run-ins with multiple drivers, especially in the RCR camp. At what point does Childress say enough is enough? Apparently this weekend in the Truck Series garage.

While I do not condone his actions, I will say this is a sport – a sport built on emotions. Childress had his reason for doing what he did, and in his statement on the fine, he stuck by that. He did not apologize; instead he explained his emotions and passion for the sport got the best of him – plain and simple.

NASCAR made the right decision to fine Childress and place him on probation. Sure, the fine is a drop in the bucket for the multi-millionaire, sure probation for a team owner is essentially meaningless, but his actions fall in line with what made NASCAR the sport it is today – passion, emotion, the desire to win and fight for your team.


NASCAR Flubs Penalty Call By Not Suspending Richard Childress For Kyle Busch Incident

During NASCAR's rise in the first decade of this millenium, it seemed painfully obvious that officials in stock car racing's governing body wanted to model themselves after the NFL.

But that attitude – much like NASCAR's upward trend itself – is long gone. These days, NASCAR seems more anxious to copy the UFC.

Incredibly, series officials elected not to suspend team owner Richard Childress on Monday after he flat-out assaulted a star driver who was in no situation to fight back.

Childress took off his watch before he even approached Kyle Busch in the Truck Series garage at Kansas Speedway on Saturday – a sign of a premeditated attack – and began punching Busch while holding the driver in a headlock.

NASCAR called a news conference on Sunday to tell reporters it was taking what happened very seriously and emphasized that Busch did nothing wrong – nor did the driver do anything to provoke the attack. NASCAR even said it would have ejected the team owner from the track had another top official from his Richard Childress Racing organization been present to take his place.

Yet when NASCAR announced its penalty for Childress on Monday, it was completely toothless: A $150,000 fine for the mega-millionaire team owner (which is actually a donation to the NASCAR Foundation) and the typical meaningless "probation" for the remainder of the season.

We're not sure what exactly "probation" means for an owner who was already unlikely to assault anyone else in the coming months, but the safe bet is: Absolutely nothing.

The disturbing part about this "penalty" is that NASCAR, yet again, makes decisions that result in the sanctioning body appearing to be clueless, out of touch and biased toward certain individuals.

For the sake of NASCAR's public image, it would have been completely acceptable and understandable if officials had called Childress and said, "Look, Richard...we've got to sit you out for a couple weeks. Go take a vacation, relax and come back at the end of the month."

In that situation, most everyone would have been satisfied. It wouldn't have had any negative impact on the Richard Childress Racing teams (it's not like Childress works on the cars) and the penalty would have sent a message that there is a limit to NASCAR's controversial 'Boys, have at it' policy.

That limit, by the way, would be this: If you walk up to a driver and attack him, unprovoked, you're going to have to miss a couple races.

But apparently, that's really not such a bad thing.

As NASCAR fans know, the sanctioning body has suspended people for far less egregious offenses. Crew chiefs miss six weeks if their cars are built out of spec by the thickness of a feather; individuals can even be suspended indefinitely for misuse of a season credential.

NASCAR has no problem wielding its power when it wants to punish those who dare question its rules or authority.

When it comes to personal conduct, though, officials seem to go weak in the knees and fumble when faced with a chance to send a message.

Drunk driving? Sure, you can race this week. Going 128 mph in a 45 mph zone? Hey, not our business. Assault in the NASCAR garage? No biggie, just write us a check.

Look, if RCR driver Joey Coulter had wanted to kick Busch's butt for whatever happened between them on the track during Saturday's race, then so be it. Athletes fight other athletes in sports all the time.

But a team owner wanting a piece of Busch? NASCAR shouldn't permit that to happen – and likely wouldn't if it were someone aside from Childress.

If the assault was carried out by a lower-profile owner – one without the personal history with officials that Childress has – it would have unquestionably resulted in a suspension.

And what if Busch – who is on probation himself – would have returned Childress' blows and socked a 65-year-old man in the face?

See ya.

NASCAR should have taken a step to send a message that physical confrontations can only be acceptable between two competitors; team owners, crewmen, family members and publicists cannot be allowed to attack a driver without serious repercussions.

Instead, NASCAR made it clear that being a member of the Good Ol' Boy network is still more important than upholding order in the garages, and that playing favorites remains the name of the game.


Richard Childress Escapes NASCAR Suspension For Kyle Busch Fight; Owner Fined, Placed On Probation

Richard Childress avoided suspension for his attack on Kyle Busch, receiving instead a $150,000 fine and probation for the remainder of the year, NASCAR announced on Monday.

The Richard Childress Racing team owner put Busch in a headlock and punched him repeatedly following Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway, and NASCAR officials said Sunday they would quickly determine a punishment for the 65-year-old future Hall of Famer.

That seems to be exactly what happened, though the outcome was different than many expected. Though the penalty was issued sooner than normal (officials typically meet about punishments on Tuesdays), Childress had been expected by many to be suspended for punching Busch.

NASCAR President Mike Helton said Sunday that officials considered ejecting Childress from the track and that Busch did nothing to provoke the team owner's actions. However, officials ultimately felt that didn't warrant a suspension.

"The penalty we have announced today for Richard Childress reflects NASCAR's response to the incident at Kansas Speedway on Saturday," NASCAR said in a statement Monday. "We feel this action is appropriate and are confident all parties involved understand our position on this matter and will move forward appropriately.

UPDATE – The following is a statement from Richard Childress:

First of all, I'm responsible for my actions, plain and simple. As you know, I am a very principled person and have a passion for what we do at Richard Childress Racing. I believe passionately in defending my race teams and my sponsor partners.

In this instance, I let that passion and my emotions get the best of me. I accept the penalty NASCAR announced today and, as a company, we will now focus on this week's races at Pocono Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.

Related: SB Nation's "NASCAR Ranting and Raving" blog says a Childress suspension would have sent the wrong message.


Richard Childress Assault On Kyle Busch To Result In NASCAR Penalty

NASCAR will penalize team owner Richard Childress today for attacking Kyle Busch at Kansas Speedway last weekend, with the announcement of Childress' punishment likely coming within the next couple hours.

In the meantime, let's take a look at what happened between Busch and Childress that led the six-time Sprint Cup championship team owner to take his aggression out on Busch.

Busch, who drives for Joe Gibbs Racing, has had several run-ins with Richard Childress Racing drivers over the years. Since Darlington, though, Childress' blood has been boiling at the 26-year-old who can't seem to stay out of the spotlight.

At Darlington, Busch wrecked RCR's Kevin Harvick on the frontstretch – an incident which also took out Childress driver Clint Bowyer. After the race, Harvick approached Busch's car to punch him on pit road, so Busch pushed Harvick's car into the wall to get away from the situation.

Both drivers were placed on probation until Michigan. But Childress, as you can imagine, was quite upset at the situation. And this wasn't the first time Busch had run afoul of an RCR driver – after last year's Coca-Cola 600, even mild-mannered Jeff Burton yelled at Busch on pit road for being overly aggressive on the track.

Then came Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas.

Toward the end of the race, Busch was racing hard with RCR's Joey Coulter – and got passed at the finish. Busch then slammed into the side of Coulter's truck on the cool-down lap, and that apparently was the last straw for Childress.

The 65-year-old grandfather walked to Busch's team transporter in the Truck Series garage. Sources said he then removed his watch and handed it to grandson Austin Dillon – who also drives in the Truck Series – and approached Busch to begin the beat-down.

Though some reports said Busch mouthed off before getting hit, NASCAR said the driver did nothing to provoke the attack.

Childress put Busch into a headlock and punched him three times; Busch fell to the ground in a defensive position to avoid further contact. But when Busch then tried to stand up, sources said, Childress took another swing at him.

That's gotten everyone to the point we're at today: NASCAR has said it will not penalize Busch, but Childress will undoubtedly face sanctions. The team owner was permitted to remain at Kansas Speedway for Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race, but only because there was no other team official there.

Stay tuned for more.


• Opinion: Kyle Busch was in a lose-lose situation when Childress approached

• Poll: Fans let their opinion be known on the Busch/Childress incident

• Reaction: Busch offers his first public comments on the altercation

• Statement: NASCAR says Childress was to blame for the fight

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