Kyle Busch and Danica Patrick were penalized by NASCAR Thursday for behavioral infractions during last weekend's Sprint Cup and Xfinity Series races at Auto Club Speedway.
Busch was fined $10,000 for not fulfilling media obligations, while Patrick was fined $20,000 for walking toward the racing surface while on-track activity was taking place. Both drivers were also put on probation: Busch for Xfinity races through April 27, Patrick for the next four Sprint Cup races.
Busch was not reprimanded for his comments following Saturday's Xfinity Series race in which he told his team via radio communication that NASCAR conspired to manipulate the finish. Also not sanctioned was Cole Pearn, Martin Truex Jr.'s crew chief, who tweeted a derogatory message directed at Joey Logano, who had been involved in an incident with Truex during Sunday's Cup race.
Busch was frustrated after narrowly losing Saturday's Xfinity race to Austin Dillon in a bizarre set of circumstances that included Busch seeing his comfortable lead vanish when his left-front tire exploded on the final lap.
Because his tire failure created debris on the track, Busch thought NASCAR should have displayed the caution, effectively ending the race and allowing Busch to keep the lead as he was able to maintain reasonable pace. Instead, officials kept the race green and Dillon passed Busch for the win just short of the checkered flag.
"Debris all over the race track and they don't throw a yellow," Busch radioed to his team, in audio Fox Sports 1 aired. "I'm just so pleased with you NASCAR. Thanks. You all are awesome. Fixing races."
Allegations of deliberately manipulating the outcome of races is something NASCAR strongly takes offense to and when a competitor states such a thing publicly -- or in Busch's case, on a forum that could be heard by the masses -- the sanctioning body has responded accordingly. But in this instance, NASCAR let the transgression slide.
What NASCAR took exception with was Busch not speaking with the media, as the second-place finisher is required to do at the conclusion of an event. He instead walked directly to the garage without reporting to the media center or talking with assembled media on pit road.
Patrick was cited for not staying near her car after being involved in an incident and instead approaching the track to gesture at Kasey Kahne, who clipped Patrick's car causing her to crash.
To better protect participants, NASCAR has mandated since 2014 that drivers not walk on or approach the track while cars are circling unless directed by officials. The rule went into effect following Tony Stewart striking and killing another driver during a sprint car race in Upstate New York who was out of his car and walking to confront the multi-time Cup champion.
Stewart has said he never saw Kevin Ward on the track and was exonorated by a grand jury of any criminal wrongdoing. A wrongful death civil lawsuit filed by Ward's family against Stewart is ongoing.
Trevor Bayne and Jennifer Jo Cobb were penalized for the same infraction as Patrick last season when they left their vehicles in separate crashes at Dover International Speedway; Bayne during that weekend's Cup race and Cobb in the Camping World Truck Series event. Because he is a competitor in NASCAR's premier division -- where the purses are higher -- Bayne was fined $20,000, while Cobb was docked $5,000.