Joe Gibbs & Kyle Busch
Joe Gibbs & Kyle Busch
No matter how you feel about The Kyle Busch Situation, it seems to be the Number One Story Line this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway for the NASCAR weekend. PIR is the penultimate race in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase.

Last Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway, KYLE BUSCH deliberately wrecked RON HORNADAY in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race which under caution. Hornaday’s truck was wrecked, as were any chances to win an unprecedented fifth Truck Series Championship.

NASCAR parked KYLE BUSCH for the remainder of TMS weekend, and has subsequently fined him $50,000 and put him on probation until the end of the calendar year.

Subsequent to the NASCAR penalties, team owner, JOE GIBBS, said there would further actions taken including a fine, but declined to spell out any specifics, citing that it was being handled in-house. “We’re working through the other financials, in doing so, we can make one or two decisions.”

Gibbs said “It was a discouraging event for everyone in the sport.”

Gibbs reiterated his support of Busch and felt in the long run all of this would have a positive impact on Busch as a person. “I look forward to a long relationship.”

One specific is that MARS, basically the M&M’s brand, has withdrawn its sponsorship from Busch’s car for the two remaining Chase races. This weekend and next, Interstate Batteries – which has been with JGR for twenty years and is now an associate sponsor – will be the primary sponsor on Busch’s No.18 Toyota.

Joe Gibbs, Kyle Busch & M&M's rep
Joe Gibbs, Kyle Busch & M&M's rep

One of the biggest impacts of the Busch Behavior was the driver dropping from seventh to eleventh in The Chase standings. Gibbs emphasized that it was a huge deal to the team. They understood, but it still was a big deal.

“In working things out, we wanted the right image. As far as ARIC ALMIROLA was concerned, with all that was going on, all the preparations, we were trying to anticipate everything. So we just checked with Aric to be ready. But it never got to that.

Z-Line has withdrawn its 2011 NNS sponsorship for Busch, and Gibbs said that Busch will concentrate on his Cup races for the remainder of the season, foregoing any other NASCAR series racing. “It was more of a race team decision – to concentrate on Cup. We’re continuing to talk and work through it. A lot of our team is devoted to the Nationwide Series. Kyle has 40 people working over there.”

Gibbs did say that Mars, M&M’s would be back with JGR in 2012. “It’s a big process, lots of things to go through and we’re just walking through it. There are lots of things to consider, and it took us a while to work through this, and I think we made the right decision.

“I know of the efforts Kyle has made this year, including his marriage to Samantha. Personally, we think Kyle is a great driver.

“We want him to drive it the way he’s able to drive it – capable – and be himself. We know he is a special person, a special athlete.
Joe Gibbs & Kyle Busch
“For us, basically our whole management team, we were kinda there and we walked through this with Kyle and Samantha. I think we see that as an emotional thing. We know where his heart is. We have a lot of people who count on us.”

Busch said “I’ve been soul searching. It has been a tough situation, never could have dreamed would happen, and I wouldn’t wish upon on anyone. For me, for my future. I have a strong path ahead in learning and growing.

“Obviously emotions ran high on me this week. For me to sit back and watch everything (last weekend) was a deep disappointment. I had a tremendous amount of remorse. There was a chance of losing it all.

“I respect NASCAR’s decision. I expected it. There is not or ever will be a fine line. How to find the gray area, with chiefs, and shop people – you push the envelope and sometimes you can slapped or worse. It certainly wasn’t part of our plan.

“I got burned my own fire, definitely.

“It had been a trying week for himself , everyone and M&M’s. Yes of course I was concerned I would have a ride. Joe has been there by myself and held my arm.

“I have an upmost apology for everyone who has gone through this. I apologize to everyone today. We want to learn from this and move on. There is remorse on my part, and I am apologetic to M&M’s. We want to continue that relationship down the road. I want to and look forward to everyone will be believe me going forward, and my growing from this.

“Yes, there were lots of upset people and it’s certainly a way to learn from and to grow. I’m sure I’ve lost respect with peers, teams and sponsors, and I understand those consequences. I realize it was uncalled for and disrespectful.

Joe Gibbs & Kyle Busch

“I turned off Twitter. That’s one of the great things about it. It’s not in my best mindset to be on Twitter reading everything.

“I know there are drivers out there who like me, and there has been tremendous support.

“Somewhere down the line I hope to reconnect with the fans to understand who I am. I appreciate their support.

“Maybe I’ve upset some folks in the last week. I’m here to do my best with Joe’s leadership.

“I called Ron within a day or two of the incident. We had a conversation which ended well. I’m still invited to sleep on his couch.”

In the realm of unintended consequences with the whole Busch situation – seemingly every other Chase driver was repeatedly asked for comments on the Busch scenario during the obligatory Friday media availability, aka Hauler Chats.

JEFF GORDON/No.24 DuPont Chevrolet said “Yes, there is a clear line. We just saw it. To me it’s clear. I know if I do that (what Busch did) there would be a penalty. There’s plenty of times drivers intentionally give payback, but not when the caution is out.

“There was a penalty, but it wasn’t severe.

“Sometimes we think we’re bigger than we are, bigger than our sponsors, and we’re not. The line here is controlling emotions. It will cost him a sponsor. This is an expensive sport and you can’t afford to lose sponsorships. I think this is the final straw and how Kyle will be making decisions going forward. In the future Kyle will lose a sponsor. Sponsors are the last to go.”

KEVIN HARVICK/No.29 Budweiser Chevrolet said “After disrespecting the sport, the hardest part is to come back and have to look everyone in the eye.”

JIMMY JOHNSON/No.48 Lowe’s/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet said he “hated it that Hornaday got wrecked while fighting for the Truck championship.”

TONY STEWART/No.14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet said “The sponsors have a clear line, and they will tell you when enough is enough.”

The beat goes on.