Kyle Busch, who ended Ron Hornaday’s championship chances when he rammed him into the wall during a caution in Friday night’s truck race, has been suspended from the remainder of the races at Texas Motor Speedway.
NASCAR parked the 26-year-old driver for today’s Nationwide Series race and tomorrow’s Sprint Cup race.
NASCAR president Mike Helton said more penalties are possible and will be considered Monday.
Busch and Hornaday made contact on Lap 13 during Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race. Both trucks were damaged, and a caution came out. During the caution, Busch accelerated into the back of Hornaday’s truck and sent him into the wall.
Hornaday, in third place in the championship point standings, couldn’t return to the race because of the damage from the hit to the wall.
Helton said Busch’s actions crossed the line of the “Have at it, boys” philosophy NASCAR has endorsed in recent seasons, giving drivers leeway to police themselves on the track.
“The responsibility over the past two or three seasons we’ve given back to the drivers came with a very clear understanding that there could be a line that got crossed,” Helton said. “As annoying as the comments that I’ve made in the past of ‘We’ll know it when we see it’ might have been, we saw it last night.”NASCAR also prevented Busch from returning to the race Friday night, even if the damage to his truck could have been repaired.
Busch told a television reporter after the incident, “I've been wrecked four weeks in a row and finally I've just had enough of it. Sorry it was Ron Hornaday and he's going after a championship, but the fact of the matter is you can't place all the blame on one person – there were two people that got into it to begin with and there's two people that ended it."
The Nationwide suspension won’t cost Busch any driver points since he is not eligible to earn points in the series. But he is seventh in the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings, and his suspension for that race certainly ends his outside championship hopes in that series.
Busch’s car owner, Joe Gibbs, said Michael McDowell will drive the No. 18 Toyota in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races. Gibbs said he respects NASCAR’s decision and takes responsibility for any driver in his cars.
“It definitely rests with me,” Gibbs said. “When you own something and you’re the owner, it’s your responsibility. That question is kind of easy for me to answer. I take full responsibility for it. ... What we’re trying to do now is deal with it the right way. We’re trying to meet with everybody who was affected by this. We’ve got a lot of work to do there, a lot of people to see.”