Occasionally, one comes across moments in motorsport that defy belief and make one question nature’s senses.
Sometimes that can be a stunning overtaking manoeuvre, a moment of bravery, a costly pitstop error, great strategic thinking or even a silly mistake.
Then there are moments when a driver is so utterly reckless on track; all semblance of sensibility dissipates into thin air. It is a time when a driver truly crosses a line into unacceptable behaviour.
This evening at the penultimate round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Texas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch more than crossed the line.
In fact, he changed gear and reversed over it. Then he got out and stamped on the line, all the while kicking dirt in its eye and when he finished all that, he picked up the line and threw it behind the bushes so that no one else could find it.
On the thirteenth lap, Truck Series title contender Ron Hornaday attempted a move on Sprint Cup regular Busch for 2nd place.
As Hornaday began to take advantage, he momentum was checked by a backmarker Timothy Peters, sending the KHI Chevrolet into the middle lane, collecting Busch. Both drew toward and into the wall, receiving notable damage and bringing out the first full caution of the race. Few expected what came next.
With the race neutralised, Hornaday slowed, citing slight damage to his right front, when a furious Busch drove up Hornaday’s rear, pitching him front first hard into the wall. Such was the ferocity of the hit; Hornaday’s engine block was severely damaged in the impact.
NASCAR officials parked Busch on the spot; however such was the damage to his Toyota-powered machine, it is unlikely that Busch could have continued effectively.
His truck destroyed, Hornaday’s title challenge is now over. With only one race remaining the Californian is now 48 points off the top of the standings, held by Austin Dillon. Busch, meanwhile, was ineligible for driver’s points, making the situation even more galling.
Put simply, what Kyle Busch did tonight was just the most pathetic display I’ve seen in a long, long time. At a time when oval racing safety is still a very sensitive subject amongst many motorsport fans, Busch showed the ultimate disrespect on track.
Over the last few years, NASCAR has certainly given the impression that this behaviour is quietly acceptable, as the series promotes the concept of “have at it, boys”, whereby drivers solve problems with other competitors – using force if needs be.
Twice in the last three years, NASCAR has flirted with the spectre of death – at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega – with Brad Keselowski and Carl Edwards. On both occasions, the series was very, very lucky not to lose either driver and / or a number of spectators, but this has to stop.
Should this habit continue unabated, NASCAR runs the risk of paying a very high price for the sake of entertainment.
*NASCAR have announced in the past hour that Kyle Busch has been parked for the rest of the weekend. Busch was essentially out of the Chase for the Cup, so it will not make much difference there, but maybe it will signal NASCAR’s intentions to slam such reckless action.
I will wait with bated breath for that one.