Busch-Logano Incident, and NASCAR Reaction, is Troubling

Heat of the moment passion in sports is completely understandable. I get it. Kyle Busch gets screwed in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup race and he wants to make someone pay. He seeks out Joey Logano to read him the riot act. Maybe shove him as he turns to walk away, just to make his point.

Perfectly fine.

But for whatever strides Busch has made the past couple of years off the track — maturity seemed to gain some traction in his life — his post-race confrontation with Logano in Las Vegas was a step backward.

Frankly, it was a step toward the criminal.

Walking to Logano’s hauler and then hauling off with a roundhouse right is assault. Had it happened in the stands between a couple of paying customers, the offending party would have been in the pokey.

The level of contact made by Busch is up for debate, but his intent was a clear sucker punch. Not an attempt to talk it over, hash it out or reach an agreement about subsequent consequences should it ever happen again. It was vigilante justice. Busch was judge, jury and executioner. His opinion, his authority, was the only thing that mattered to him. An explanation from Logano had no relevance.

What if Busch had broken Logano’s jaw or given him a concussion? Being the badass that he is, what if Busch had killed Logano with his monster right punch?

Worse, NASCAR has essentially turned a blind eye to it. Maybe it doesn’t want to put Busch on probation for fear that it might actually happen again and it might actually have to force one of the series’ best drivers to the sidelines. But that kind of physical altercation — walking up to another driver and, without provocation, trying to wail on him — is unacceptable. It’s unacceptable in the grandstands, it’s unacceptable in society, and it’s unacceptable in the garage area.

It’s bush league, in the same way that Kevin Harvick pushed Brad Keselowski from behind was bush league when Keselowski was being confronted by Jeff Gordon a couple years ago. It’s incumbent upon NASCAR to protect the drivers from themelves regardless of what level of passion Monster Energy wants to see from its star players.

Equally disturbing, based solely on the video from reporter Jeff Gluck of the incident involving Busch and Logano, was one of Logano’s crew members kicking at Busch while he was down on the ground.

Again, in the parking lot that would be criminal. And how lucky is Busch — and NASCAR and Monster — that Busch didn’t get his skull caved in?

NASCAR chairman Brian France danced around the issue, basically said boys will be boys. Yes, it’s true that there will be confrontations in sports. Hockey, baseball, it happens. But the manner in which Busch initiated this confrontation deserved action, deserved a penalty of some sort. No penalty for kicking a driver while he’s on the ground — seriously?

And let’s make one final point. Busch’s car sponsor is M&Ms, a candy aimed at children. Yet not once that I know of has Busch, France or NASCAR said that Busch’s sucker punch was bad form.

And they certainly didn’t say it was criminal.




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