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Actions Detrimental

June 17th, 2009

NASCAR has this catch-all rule they call “Actions detrimental to the sport of stock car racing.” They can use it to pretty much do anything they want to a team or driver that does something they don’t like.

For example, they can use it to suspend and fine a driver $200,000 for being a few thousandths over the engine displacement while competing in an exhibition race.

They can use it to justify suspending a driver indefinitely for violating an unknown substance abuse rule.

So NASCAR can be pretty free with this rule when they want to be.

The question is, why haven’t they suspended Kyle Busch? His actions in victory lane at Nashville Superspeedway last week were certainly detrimental to the sport: you don’t disrespect one of the race sponsors by smashing their product in victory lane, especially if that product is the unique trophy awarded for winning the race.

Awarding a guitar in Nashville (and I’m being generous in saying that Nashville Superspeedway is in Nashville) goes back at least 25 years. It didn’t catch on until Bob Harmon started giving one to the winner of the All American 400. Better men than Busch (from both a talent and personality perspective) have won that trophy: Sauter, Balough, Wallace, Waltrip, Miller, Purvis, St. Amant, Garvey, Query, Anderson, and Gill all have won one of those trophies (some have more than one), and I daresay they would tell you it’s one of their most prized possessions.

What pains me the most about this is that I saw the talent Busch has and became one of his (few) fans. He reminds me of Earnhardt, Sr. on the track. He’s done some incredible things in that race car. But as his former teammate Tony Stewart learned the hard way, what he does outside the car also has ramifications; he just doesn’t seem to know that yet. For example, I was at a snack machine the other day, and I intentionally did not buy candy produced by Busch’s Cup car sponsor.

Busch has a lot of growing up to do. And I think it amounts to just that: growing up.

NASCAR should have stepped up to the plate and either fined or suspended him from competition. By not doing that, they’ve created a precedent that now allows any driver to show blatant disrespect to a sponsor. And in a sport that exists because of sponsorship dollars, I don’t think NASCAR can afford let that precedent stand.

2 Responses to “Actions Detrimental”

  1. Tammy

    I guess I sort of straddle the fence on the guitar bashing. You know me well Glen and I’m one of the people who used to take care of that guitar race week. I’d take it home, baby it, take it on tour, get it on Trackside Live, etc., so it is very special to me, but I think a driver can do whatever he wants to do once he crosses the finish line in 1st place. Would most do it? Nope. Would I do it? Never! But, maybe I’m in the minority who thinks Kyle is a “breath of fresh air” in a sport dulled by rules and regs way too long. I like that Kyle is unpredictable and a little crazy when it comes to publicity stunts and attitude.

    And now that I’m here at the Fairgrounds Speedway (actually in the city of Nashville), we have photos of the guitar that Grammer Guitars gave to drivers in 1970, so it goes way back, nearly 40 years. The trophy guitar was born here, but adopted at the superspeedway. And the Fairgrounds has never stopped giving it away, it was just never promoted for the past decade.

    Thanks for restarting racindeals.com. We’ve missed it. 🙂

  2. Glen Harness

    I don’t think it’s ever occurred to any other driver to destroy a trophy they’ve won at a track; it’s unthinkable. Just because he has this misconception that destroying guitars is “cool” doesn’t mean he should be allowed to get away with it. It’s just disrespectful: of NASCAR, of the track, of the sponsor, and of the history of racing.

    Thanks for the feedback…

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