Early in tonight’s truck race from TMS, Kyle Busch shocked the TV announce crew, the patrons, and how many people watching on the tube when he retaliated against Ron Hornaday for a perceived on-track wrong by crashing him out of the points race under yellow. Busch’s first response to the racing media was, as usual for him, defensive, ill-tempered, and wrong-headed. It’s as if he can do no wrong.
But he has. In more than one sense, he crossed the line:
1) Hornaday only got loose while trying to pass a lapped truck. Busch was on Hornaday’s outside; it was early in the race, and he could easily have backed off and gotten another run on him a few laps down the road. It was really that simple. Had it happened with two to and they were racing for the lead, Busch might have slightly more (slightly, I stress) justification. But it didn’t happen that way. It was unnecessary. He did it without real cause. The punishment manifestly did not fir the “crime.” There was no crime. What happened with Hornaday was a “racing deal”; what Busch did absolutely was not.
2. Hornaday was racing for the series title, until tonight. He’s now eliminated from contention. Consider what he lost tonight—the point fund and all else of course secondary to the idea of being champion. That won’t happen this year. Busch saw to that, and with apparent understanding as he crashed him. Whatever NASCAR does after the race will not return him to the points race.
3. This is Texas, not Chemung Speedrome’s annual enduro. That angle at which Hornaday struck the wall was chillingly Earnhardt-esque. What if Busch had injured Hornaday, or worse? We could’ve seen that happen.
I wouldn’t want to be the father of a young racing fan trying to explain why rough driving is wrong on its face as an idea. I’d hate to think about the images they’re coming away with, who they think benefits from what Kyle Busch did, and what they’d do in that situation. I don’t know how NASCAR’s going to sanction him, but my hope is that he’ll be set down from the rest of the weekend’s racing, and if it takes him out of any remaining hope of winning the Cup title, then at least Ron Hornaday can sit back certain in that knowledge. What had gone around came back around.
We’ll see, NASCAR. We’ll see.