Commentary

Kyle Busch endangered human life

Updated: May 25, 2011, 4:44 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Jon and James Herbert.

They're who I wanted to tell Kyle Busch about when news surfaced on Tuesday that he was ticketed for driving 128 mph in a 45 mph speed zone on a two-lane road in Iredell (N.C.) County.

They're who I wanted to tell NASCAR about when it decided Busch's actions didn't fall under infamous rule 12-4-A, "actions detrimental to stock car racing," or have any connection to the probation Busch already was on from the Darlington incident with Kevin Harvick.

Kyle Busch
Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR/Getty ImagesKyle Busch, who was cited going 128 mph in a 45-mph zone on Tuesday, apologized in a statement: "... I take responsibility for my actions and I can assure you that something like this will never happen again."

Jon, 17, and James, 12, the sons of NHRA Top Fuel star Doug Herbert, were killed in January 2008 when their car collided with another going more than 80 mph in a 45 mph zone not all that far from where Busch was going 83 mph over the speed limit.

What Busch did easily could have had the NASCAR community in tears today. He not only endangered his and his wife's lives, he endangered anybody traveling on Perth Road, where he was stopped.

The location, by the way, was about 4 miles from where Rob Moroso and a person in another vehicle were killed in 1990, when the 1989 Nationwide Series champion, under the influence of alcohol, was going 75 mph in a 35 mph zone.

We are fortunate nobody was killed on Tuesday.

Regardless, it was detrimental to stock car racing.

In a week in which the second Hall of Fame class is being celebrated, when news of Danica Patrick coming to NASCAR full time in 2012 is out, when Formula One star Kimi Raikkonen is about to make his Nationwide debut, when one of the biggest races of the season is about to take place at Charlotte Motor Speedway, we're talking about Busch's speeding ticket.

I could be writing about the $130,000-plus raised on Tuesday at the King's Cup, a go-carting fundraiser benefiting the Paralyzed Veterans of America in which Richard Petty, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, AJ Allmendinger and Martin Truex Jr. participated.

As you can see, I'm not.

NASCAR says it's a matter for the Iredell police to handle, that "based on what we know right now, this would not impact his status as a NASCAR driver."

But if the governing body can place a driver on probation for driving under the influence, as it did Michael Annett earlier this year for allegedly being three times over the legal limit and Allmendinger for being charged with driving under the influence in 2009, then surely it should do the same here.

I'm not a reconstruction expert, but surely Kyle Busch's reaction time at 128 mph on a curvy road couldn't have been much better than somebody under the influence driving 45 mph.

And according to North Carolina statute 20-14, "any person who drives any vehicle upon a highway or any public vehicular area without due caution and circumspection and at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger or be likely to endanger any person or property shall be guilty of reckless driving."

Endangering lives sounds detrimental to me.

Busch said he was test-driving a new 2012 Lexus and "got carried away." That doesn't make him a bad person or a thug, but it deserves some consequences, even if it's probation.

There's a chance the courts will take Busch's driver's license, but that won't impact his ability to drive a stock car because a driver's license isn't required.

And I'm not suggesting Busch should be parked.

I'm just saying that to be consistent NASCAR has to consider that what Busch did is detrimental to stock car racing. The problem the governing body has is, because Busch already is on probation for violating rule 12-4-A, to link this incident to that likely would result in a loss of championship points.

That may be extreme. But to say this isn't detrimental to the sport is wrong.

Endangering human life outside the track is more wrong than taking a swing at another driver or, as Busch did, shoving Harvick's car into the pit wall at Darlington with crew members and NASCAR officials approaching.

Hopefully, Joe Gibbs Racing responds in some way. I'm going to make a suggestion. Make Busch join the B.R.A.K.E.S. (Be Responsible and Keep Everyone Safe) program that Herbert formed after his sons were killed.

Make him go talk to kids about the dangers of speeding and hopefully prevent them from making the mistake he did.

Make him listen to the stories of kids who have come close to death because they were driving at speeds far less than 128 mph.

"I've had some parents say their kids came home from school and they were crying and my message meant something to them and that they were driving differently," Herbert told me when I took my youngest son through his program a few years ago.

"I've got a million great memories about Jon and James. There's really only two bad ones. One of them is the accident and the other is I'm not going to make any new ones."

Jon and James Herbert.

They're who I wanted to tell Busch and NASCAR about on Tuesday.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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