Busch penalized extensively for Dover pit incident
LONG POND, Pa. -- Kurt Busch was docked 100 driver points Friday, fined $100,000 and placed on probation until the end of the year for reckless driving and endangering a crew member on pit road.
Car owner Roger Penske also was penalized 100 owner points because of Busch's infraction.
"We felt like we got everybody's attention," said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition. "We felt like the 100-point penalty, the $100,000 was substantial."
NASCAR placed Busch on probation until Dec. 31. With the penalty, Busch fell from 11th to a tie for 18th in the Chase standings. The top 12 drivers are in the final 10 races for the title.
Busch apologized on Monday and said he regrets his behavior on the track.
"It's a bit surprising, but safety on pit road can't be compromised," Busch said outside his hauler. "I understand that. To me, it's a matter of making sure everyone is safe on pit road."
Busch and Tony Stewart were both running in the top 10 in Monday's race at Dover International Speedway when Busch clipped Stewart as he went to make a pass in lap 271. Busch nosed into the wall and Stewart was sent hard into the SAFER barrier on the outside retaining wall.
While Stewart's team checked out the damage to the No. 20 Chevrolet in the pit stall, Busch pulled next to Stewart's car, forcing jackman Jason Lee to jump back and onto the hood.
NASCAR parked Busch and he finished 42nd. Pemberton said there was some consideration to parking Busch for Sunday's Pocono 500, but that NASCAR was "fairly happy" with its decision.
"Safety is one of our big issues," Pemberton said. "Accidents do happen, and we don't want to put ourselves in a position to allow an accident to happen like that."
The incident between Tony and I still needs to be discussed. The guy thought I didn't race him with enough room and I felt like he didn't race me with enough room and it hurt us both in points.
"I had my car under control when I stopped next to Tony's car next to pit road," he said.
Busch reached out to Lee and Joe Gibbs racing team president J.D. Gibbs, though he had yet to talk to Stewart. Busch told Lee it was never his intention to put him in danger and that his beef was strictly with Stewart.
Stewart called Busch a "bad apple" after the Dover race.
"The incident between Tony and I still needs to be discussed," Busch said. "The guy thought I didn't race him with enough room and I felt like he didn't race me with enough room and it hurt us both in points, so that's the tough part."
This isn't the first time this season the two former Nextel Cup champs got in each other's way on the track.
Busch and Stewart dominated most of the Daytona 500 and were on a pace for a frantic finish until they wrecked each other with 48 laps to go. When Stewart's car wriggled just a bit, Busch ran into his bumper and both cars careened into the outside wall.
"We each need to give each other a bit more room on the track," Busch said.
Busch's notorious hot temper has cost him before. He's thrown tantrums, admitted spinning another driver to help his position and been charged off the track with reckless driving.
All this has tarnished the reputation of the 2004 champ, and he got little support in the garage Friday.
"I'm not trying to go after Kurt and say that there needs to be a suspension, but that's a major thing, especially if you're endangering people on pit road," Jimmie Johnson said. "His frustration just took hold of him and put him in a position to do that. You can't mess around with guys on pit road. You can't hurt innocent people."
Added Busch's brother, Kyle: "NASCAR made its decision. It is what it is."
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.