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Richard Childress is Old School
June 11, 2011 - Al Stephenson
When Nascar decided last year to instruct its drivers to "have at it boys" I doubt they thought they would have to reprimand a 65-year-old team owner for, well, "having at it."
After the truck race at Kansas last weekend, Richard Childress, the owner of Joey Coulter's racing truck, decided he had had enough of the antics of Kyle Busch. The younger of the two Busch brothers had given Coulter a tap (if you believe Busch a congratulatory one) on the cool down lap. They had raced hard for the last 20 or so laps and Coulter had held off Busch for a fifth place finish.
After run-ins with Jeff Burton and more recently Kevin Harvick, RCR's Sprint Cup drivers, Kyle Busch was on Childress' radar. He had commented that if Kyle Busch wrecked one more piece of his equipment he would take matters into his own hands. That's exactly what he did at Kansas as he exchanged heated words with Busch before putting him in a headlock and throwing a few punches before the two were separated.
The situation made me think of a couple baseball incidents. Childress at age 65 is nearly thirty years older than Busch. There was a significant age difference when Nolan Ryan put Robin Ventura in a headlock and handed out some noogies after Ventura charged the mound against the all time strikeout king. Pedro Martinez threw a significantly older Don Zimmer to the ground during a Yankees-Red Sox dustup. In both those cases public sentiment came down clearly on the side of the old timer.
Such is the case with Childress even though Nascar fined him $150,000 and put him on (owners?) probation for the rest of the year. Most race fans are secretly (or not so secretly) applauding Childress for trying to knock some sense into the young "Rowdy" Busch. He has ruffled a number of feathers in the garage area and perhaps this will make him sit up and take notice. Childress, for his part, issued a very non-apologetic apology at Pocono this week. He was sorry his emotions got in the way of his passion for the sport of racing. Notice that he didn't really apologize for striking Busch.
The view from my seat would suggest that the punishment for Richard Childress was appropriate as you cannot have owners attacking drivers. Like nearly everyone else, there is a little smile forming on my face as I make that comment.
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