Kyle Busch has been parked by NASCAR for the weekend as punishment for aggressive driving and causing an on-track collision with Ron Hornaday under a caution during the Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night.
Busch will not be allowed to take part in either the AAA Texas 500 Sprint Cup race or the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Nationwide Series race, after having also been ordered to the garage during the WinStar World Casino 350k Truck Series event following the incident on lap 15 of the evening race.
It started the previous lap when Hornaday got loose while fighting Busch for position behind slow traffic. Hornaday got loose and moved up the track, sending both trucks against the wall. During the ensuing caution, Busch retaliated by accelerating into the back of the #33 and turning Hornaday into the wall in a hard, head-on impact that wrecked both vehicles. (See earlier story for more details
Busch may face further sanctions next week when NASCAR meets and reviews the race weekend as a whole. He could face fines, points deductions - or further race suspensions. A probation period would appear to be an inevitability.
Denny Hamlin will take over Busch's Nationwide car for the remainder of the weekend, while Michael McDowell will be in the Joe Gibbs Racing #18 Cup car. McDowell (who drives for JGR in the Nationwide Series) originally qualified in the #66 car, which is now expected to be handed to Josh Wise for the Sunday afternoon race.
It's the first time that NASCAR have thrown a driver out of races since Robby Gordon, after he disobeyed NASCAR orders at a Nationwide event in Montreal in 2007. A penalty affecting all three national series has never been applied.
In a season that has been dominated by NASCAR's new 'Boys, Have At It' hands-off approach, the sudden intervention by NASCAR over an on-track incident is a major shock - especially given that it means parking a Chase contender at a crucial point in the championship.
"The responsibility that, 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," explained NASCAR President Mike Helton on Saturday morning, after informing the media about Busch's suspension. "As annoying as the comments I've made personally in the past – about 'We'll know it when we see it' – might have been, we saw it last night.
"I think the garage areas - the drivers, the team owners, the crew members - understand the difference between being responsible and crossing the line," he added. "I honestly believe they understand the difference, but we'll have to wait and see how the opinions react to this."