I have patiently waited to give my two cents on the Joey Logano vs Kyle Busch scuffle after last week’s Kobalt 400. So you get the picture: We saw a heated Kyle Busch storm over to Joey Logano’s pit and take a swing and get dog piled by Logano’s pit crew. Busch walked away with a small cut on his forehead and a dose of humility after the 22 crew finished what Busch started.
I was a little shocked when NASCAR chose not to hand down any penalties to either driver or pit crew members. It just didn’t seem very NASCAR of NASCAR to let them fight it out on national television.
NASCAR came out with a statement saying that any time there’s a fight or scuffle it’s viewed on a case-by-case basis. In other words, there is no set rule or penalty when a fight breaks out. NASCAR has historically penalized pit crew members for intervening in fights between drivers, but they didn’t this time.
I applaud NASCAR for not penalizing the 22 crew. My personal stance is that of a short track racer. On Saturday nights at the local short tracks, if a fight started, punishment was handed out based on the pit in which the fight was started. The driver who started a fight in another driver’s pit was responsible for the penalty. Many times, the police officers would put the guilty driver in handcuffs, take him out side of the track and release him – but that’s neither here nor there. In Sundays race Busch walked into Logano’s pit and took the first swing. All penalty should have fallen on Busch, but it didn’t.
The question I continue to ask myself is why did NASCAR choose to forego any penalty to Kyle Busch?
Was it because he took the short end of the stick by getting his butt kicked by Logano’s pit crew? Was it because they felt Busch was already in deep water with an M&M’s sponsor that surely won’t put up with that type of behavior? Or was it because that fight sent a shock wave through the sports world that brought NASCAR attention it wouldn’t have normally gotten?
While I think it is a combination of everything, I do think the media attention had a lot more to do with it than NASCAR will ever let on. We’re trying to reach new markets and get new spectators interested in this sport. So far this year, we’ve had a Daytona 500 that was a demolition derby and a brawl on pit lane in only week three of the season. NASCAR is absolutely taking the sports world by storm right now and the governing body, most likely, loves every second.
The casual viewer of Sports Center, or the local news has most likely seen the NASCAR highlights from the previous three weeks and is more likely to tune in to FS1 this Sunday and watch the race. The more tenured NASCAR fans are much more likely to buy tickets and get to the track. As weird as it seems to say, the fight was good for the sport. People love seeing passion in sports and if a guy loses his cool and punches another guy, so be it. Fans enjoy the passion.
With that said, NASCAR isn’t going to put up with fighting and tearing up racecars in excess over a feud. NASCAR met with Logano and Busch today before practice. I think it’s safe to assume that NASCAR set very clear expectations on how the drivers would interact on-track moving forward. If either Logano or Busch doesn’t meet those expectations, you better believe NASCAR will step in and issue hefty fines and penalties.
I’m excited about the direction of our sport. If the past three weeks are any indication of what is in store then I’m more than excited to watch week in and week out.
Do you feel the same? Let me know your thoughts on the fight, NASCAR’s move to not issue any penalties and the overall spectacle the 2017 season has been thus far.