DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Report by Race Chaser Online Managing Editor Jacob Seelman — Christian Petersen/Robert Laberge photos via Getty Images —
Defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch and fourth-year Stewart Haas Racing driver Danica Patrick’s wallets are both a little lighter following penalties announced by the sanctioning body on Thursday afternoon.
Busch was fined $10,000 and placed on probation through April 27 for failing to report to the media center after Saturday’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Auto Club Speedway.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver finished second after leading 133 of 150 laps, suffering a flat tire on the final lap that allowed Austin Dillon to sneak past for the win. Busch then launched into a radio tirade and accused NASCAR of “fixing races” before climbing out of his car and shirking his mandatory post-race obligations.
The NASCAR XFINITY Series Rule Book requires the top three finishers to report to the media center for post-race press conferences unless excused by NASCAR, of which Busch was not excused.
Busch was not fined for his comments over the radio — something that was highly speculated between Saturday and the announcement of the penalties on Thursday. Under NASCAR’s new Code of Conduct, specifically the section outlined in Section 12.8.1.b of the Sprint Cup Rule Book, carries fines of $10,000 to $50,000 and/or probation for “disparaging the sport and/or NASCAR’s leadership.’’
NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer Steve O’Donnell did, however, comment on his feelings in regards to Busch’s post-XFINITY race behavior during an appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio at the first of the week.
“I applaud Kyle’s passion because at the end of the day, the guy wants to win and he’s not happy when he doesn’t, so you always want to see that,” O’Donnell said. “Little disappointed … in terms of the post-race comments and certainly the [not adhering to] media obligations.”
Patrick was fined $20,000 and placed on probation for the next four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points races for walking towards a “hot” race track, after contact with Kasey Kahne caused her to crash into the outside frontstretch wall during Sunday’s Auto Club 400, race five of the 2016 Sprint Cup season.
Updated in the fall of 2014 following a sprint car crash at Canindaigua Motorsports Park that involved three-time Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart and ultimately took the life of 20-year-old Kevin Ward Jr., NASCAR’s safety policy instructs competitors to stay in their cars until safety and emergency personnel reach the accident scene, as well as to avoid walking on an active racing surface.
Patrick approached the racing surface and gestured to Kahne in regards to the contact, which she was not impressed with and commented on after being released from the infield care center on Sunday.
“I don’t know what kind of day he was having. I heard he was a lap down actually,” Patrick said during the FOX television broadcast. “I feel bad if he felt like he was put in a position to have to be that desperate a lap down.”
“It’s just unfortunate; he must be having a very tough time. I was having a pretty good recovery day, kind of like last weekend. I was just running good race laps and on the lead lap at the end of the race, back up into the top 20 from a bad starting position.”
In addition to the two fines, NASCAR issued warnings to six Sprint Cup teams for inspection issues before Sunday’s race.
Teams that failed the Laser Inspection Station (LIS) twice during pre-qualifying inspection included Austin Dillon, Ryan Blaney, Paul Menard and Matt Kenseth. Kenseth’s team then received a second warning after his car failed template inspection twice before qualifying as well.
Carl Edwards’ team received a warning for failing the LIS twice in pre-race inspection, and the Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing No. 95 team (with the car driven at Auto Club by Michael McDowell) was warned for a truck trailing arm that was out of specifications during Friday’s first inspection process.
Any team which garners four warnings loses their opportunity for pit stall selection, at the current event if pit selection hasn’t taken place or at the next event if pit stall selection has been completed. Once a team has forfeited its pit selection, their warning total is reset to zero.
NASCAR action returns to the track on April 3 for the STP 500 from Martinsville Speedway.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network. Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 22-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for both the United Sprint Car Series and the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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