After contact with the No. 3 car of Austin Dillon on lap 125 of the Cook Out Southern 500, the Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Kyle Busch slammed the outside wall of the Darlington Raceway. The damage was significant enough that the No. 18 team decided immediately to take the car to the garage area and retire it from competition. It was a devastating blow in this race that served as the opener for the NASCAR Playoffs.
Soon after the incident, Busch was interviewed by NBC and his language was not exactly well suited for a Sunday School class.
“It wasn’t the 3’s fault,” Busch declared when asked about the contact with Dillon. “Just take our lumps, you know. We were running like s**t and got wrecked, so that’s what you get when you run like s**t. It just shouldn’t be there. I don’t know what our problem is, but every time we go to sim and use sim and think we have a good sim session, we go to the race track and we suck. So I’m done with that, and we’ll have to use some other tools in figuring out how to be good, but the M&M’s Camry was not very good and we’re running terrible and we got wrecked. It wasn’t the 3’s fault.”
Indeed, the replay of the accident did seem to show that Busch actually cut down into Dillon to initiate the contact.
In the past, drivers have been penalized by NASCAR for using inappropriate language on live television. Dale Earnhardt Jr. once had points taken away for salty comments made on television. But the frustrated Busch’s choice of words might not have been the biggest issue revolving around this entire scenario.
As Busch was coming off the track to take the car to the garage area, he came very close to running into pedestrians behind the pit wall. Cones had been placed in the area in front of one of the openings where cars can be taken from pit road and into the Darlington Raceway garage area. Behind those cones is an area painted very much like a crosswalk that might be seen on a city street.
Should Kyle Busch be called to the NASCAR hauler for this? pic.twitter.com/uONT02RugP
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 5, 2021
People were walking through that area when Busch burst through the cones and rolled into the crosswalk area at a speed higher than necessary. The No. 18 car narrowly missed people who were there.
Granted, people who place themselves in a race track’s pit and garage area have to constantly be aware of the possibility a potentially damaged car might be coming through the area at any time. As someone who attends many races each year, I know the possible danger associated with an area where cars are being worked and where frustrated drivers might be rolling through that work area. Still, much of the responsibility for safety is on the drivers. After all, they are the ones holding the steering wheel.
And more in this situation, those cones were placed there for a reason, so when Busch just blew through them, he assumed responsibility for whatever might happen next.
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Everything that happens to drivers can’t just be chalked up to “being passionate” or to “frustration”. Adults have to use common sense and control, even in difficult situations. Kyle Busch did not use common sense and control. Fortunately, there was not a tragic result on this occasion.
Still, NASCAR should do something to let it be known that such a dangerous move cannot be tolerated. Whether it be a fine or something more significant such as a points penalty, there has to be a penalty for the way Busch entered the garage area after his mishap. If the sanctioning body also chooses to do something for the language as well, that would probably also be appropriate.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association
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