Busch fined, Hendrick recovers, Keselowski worried
9 November 2011
Kyle Busch has been handed a $50,000 fine for spinning Ron Hornaday in a retaliatory move during last Friday night's Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, and put on probation through to the end of the season.
Busch was parked from all race activities at Texas following the incident and some felt that his suspension should continue for the rest of the year. However, Busch has been cleared to race at this weekend's events at Phoenix as well as the season finale at Homestead-Miami next weekend.
In their penalty notice, NASCAR issued Busch with a blunt warning by adding: "if during the remaining NASCAR events in 2011 there is another action by the competitor that is deemed by NASCAR officials as detrimental to stock car racing or to NASCAR, or is disruptive to the orderly conduct of an event, the competitor will be suspended indefinitely from NASCAR."
Busch also received a warning from his main sponsor, confectionery giant M&Ms, which released a statement via its Facebook page saying: "The recent actions by Kyle Busch are not consistent with the values of M&M's and we're very disappointed. Like you, we hold those who represent our brand to a higher standard and we have expressed our concerns directly to Joe Gibbs Racing."
It's emerged that NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick has spent six days in hospital following a crash landing of the plane in which he and his wife Linda were passengers at the start of last week.
The plane suffered brake failure and ran off the runway at Key West International on the evening of Monday, October 31. Initially it was reported that there were no serious injuries, but the team later clarified that Hendrick had in fact suffered from four broken ribs and a broken clavicle (shoulder). His wife Linda escaped with cuts and bruises.
Subsequent reports said that Hendrick and his wife was convalescing at home, but now new press releases from the team have revealed that after flying home to North Carolina last Tuesday, he reported discomfort from the injuries that meant he was was taken to a local hospital for treatment, evaluation and observation. He was kept in for six days and was only released on Monday.
The plane in which Hendrick was flying is registered to Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, and is the plane usually used to take Johnson to race venues during the season. A full investigation into the cause of the crash is underway.
Keselowski against fuel injection
Penske Racing's Brad Keselowski has stirred controversy by criticising NASCAR's move to fuel injection for 2012.
"It has less throttle response, and it's harder to get to start (because) it takes a computer to start the damn thing," he is reported as telling the USA Today newspaper this week. "It's a pain in the ass. I don't see where fans get anything from it."
"I'm not a big fan of it at all. Carburetor technology is 50 years old but is very simple. The benefit of a carburetor is that it's very, very easy to police. That's why NASCAR stuck with that," he added. "They've been pressured into switching it through the green initiatives. In reality it's no more efficient than what we have, and it costs a lot more."
Dale Earnhardt Jr. said that his own tests with the new fuel injection system had been very smooth and suggested that Keselowski's criticism - which could attract a penalty from NASCAR - was down to problems in the Penske testing. "It drives exactly like the carburetor car," said Earnhardt. "It's just a step in the natural process of the sport."
One-groove Phoenix worries drivers
This weekend's return to Phoenix International Raceway is causing consternation among the Sprint Cup field, who fear that recent repaving and reconfiguration work at the venue will mean that there will be no alternative to single file racing this weekend.
The organisers of the event are going to considerable lengths to prepare the track for this weekend's races, and have been sending out vehicles dragging tyres around the one-mile oval in an effort to lay down some rubber to widen the usable groove. They have also been running cars loaned from the Richard Petty Driving Experience, with drivers Randy LaJoie, Frank Kimmel, Tim Fedewa, Steve Grissom, Brad Noffsinger and Andy Thurman putting in some 3000 laps on 80 soft Goodyear tyres over the course of 12 days.
"We ran in the upper groves trying to lay down more rubber," said former NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Fedewa. "And it's getting black. You can see the second groove. I'm confident it's going to be better."
"I don't see it being fixed by simply dragging tyres, but I could be wrong," insisted Brad Keselowski. "I think a big question will be how the track will rubber in. I don't expect a lot ... I think the track, it has a coating on the top of it that needs to be worn through. The tyre appears to be too hard to achieve that."
Former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Jeremy Mayfield has been indicted on charges of possessing the illegal drug methamphetamine, by a North Carolina grand jury, following a raid on his house by police last week which allegedly found 1.5 grams of the substance along with approximately $100,000 in stolen goods on the premises.
Mayfield denies any knowledge of the drugs. If found guilty of possession, Mayfield could serve between three to 10 months in jail.
The police raid was based on a tip from a police source which stated that "Mayfield is a consistent user of methamphetamine and often consumes up to an ounce a day of that substance," according to a police affidavit presented as part of the original search warrant.
Mayfield was suspended by NASCAR in May 2009 after failing one of the newly-introduced drugs tests, which he blamed on a false positive caused by the interaction of his prescription for ADHD and an over-the-counter allergy medication. Mayfield sued NASCAR over the suspension but lost the initial case, and is awaiting a date for a hearing before the US Court of Appeal. Reports in the media this week suggest that Mayfield has debts of $555,000, $145,000 in unpaid taxes, and also faces demands to repay a bank loan of $1.35m after defaulting on payments.