Sunday, June 5, 2011

Q&A with NASCAR President Mike Helton

   MIKE HELTON:  Good morning.  Let me just make a brief statement and take a couple of questions.
   Obviously after last night's incident, we began looking into it through the evening, and as recent as 15 minutes ago, meeting with different parties.  We concluded that the driver of the 18 truck, Kyle Busch, did nothing to provoke or to cause the reactions that, in our opinion, would have violated probation.  Did nothing that would have warranted the actions of Richard Childress.

   And so we'll have to ‑‑ once we get today's race concluded, which is the focus of today, we'll have to decide what NASCAR's reaction is to Richard Childress as a member of NASCAR in an action against another NASCAR member.

   The biggest topic today, certainly, through the conversations outside of the incident itself was to be sure that today's event went on correctly and safely for everybody involved, and both the Richard Childress Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing organizations, we have made it clear to them that our expectations is that both Joe Gibbs and Richard Childress meet with their teams to be sure that nobody from their organizations felt like there was anything that needed to be done from their side.

   So we'll focus on today's race now, and then quickly, maybe more quickly than normal, come back with our reaction as it relates to NASCAR member Richard Childress.

    Q.  What was NASCAR's perception of what happened on the cooldown lap between Joey Coulter and Kyle?

    MIKE HELTON:  That kind of falls under the statement that I made that we don't think Kyle did anything to violate his probation on the racetrack yesterday.

    Q.  Obviously one of the things in the rule book, states that you guys can do is an emergency action and can eject an individual, one of the things it says you can eject for is for fighting.  Can you explain why you didn't eject Richard, and does this not fall under fighting with what you've been able to uncover?

   MIKE HELTON:  It does.  And we do have that ability, and incidents even beyond fighting, to feel like if we needed to do that, we could, and that was considered in this case.

   And what will happen today is that Richard will operate as the owner of Richard Childress Racing with some restrictions attached to it as to where he may go or not go.

   But we decided to let Richard stay, because there does need to be leadership of an organization represented, which, you know, historically we rely on crew chiefs.  But since both organizations have multiple teams, we decided that it would be better if there was an authority from the team here.  And there's not a second level authority present this weekend from his organization; Joe Gibbs is here from Joe Gibbs Racing, and we chose to allow Richard to participate today.

   Q.  You said what Kyle did on the track is not a violation of his probation, but what goes on in the garage, does that not have any factor ‑‑

   MIKE HELTON:  Unless you know something we don't know, I'm not sure what he did in the garage that would have been in question.

   Q.  What have you been told went on in the it garage?

   MIKE HELTON:  I'm not to go into all of the details.  I'm just saying we have not seen anything that indicated Kyle violated his probation on the racetrack yesterday or even in the garage areas yesterday.

   Q.  Are we looking at Kyle as Kyle Busch driver, rather than Kyle Busch owner, because Kyle Busch driver does have a history with the RCR company that dates back to Darlington.  I think that's kind of where it hit the crescendo when he was put on probation.  So are we looking at Kyle Busch driver, Kyle Busch owner, Kyle Busch competitor in general?

   MIKE HELTON:  We look at him as members of NASCAR.  Kyle Busch is a member of NASCAR, other drivers, crew members, car owners are members of NASCAR.  Our authority is around NASCAR members and that's the way we look at them as NASCAR members.

   Certainly we investigate to get the totality of everything we need to make a decision.  The reaction from NASCAR is focused on what happened yesterday.

   Q.  Has fighting in the garage as something that used to be part of NASCAR, people would scrap it out all the time, has that changed with the current era in sports, that you simply have to look at the bigger picture and can't allow what you did years ago?  Because a lot of that went on.

   MIKE HELTON:  I think throughout the history of NASCAR, we have gone through cycles of everything, including tempers in the garage and on the racetracks, and I think our responsibility lies in reacting to those trends, and if it is a trends that we feel like escalates, then we have a history of stepping in and turning those trends around.

NASCAR places restrictions on Richard Childress; clears Kyle Busch

   KANSAS CITY, Kan. - NASCAR on Sunday placed a variety of restrictions on team owner Richard Childress and he will face additional penalties for his involvement in a post-race fight with driver Kyle Busch following Saturday’s Truck series race at Kansas Speedway.

   NASCAR President Mike Helton on Sunday said he considered ejecting Childress from the track but decided a leader of the Richard Childress Racing organization needed to be on hand for Sunday’s STP 400.

   However, Childress was prohibited from going on pit road, attend the pre-race drivers’ meeting and was relegated to watching the race from the top of his team transporter.

   “We concluded that Kyle Busch did nothing to warrant the reaction of Richard Childress,” Helton said. “Once we get today’s race concluded, we will have to decide what NASCAR’s reaction is to Richard Childress as a member of NASCAR in an action against another NASCAR member.”

   While NASCAR typically announces penalties from the previous weekend on Tuesday, Helton suggested it may come as early as Monday.

   Helton also emphasized Busch did nothing, either on the track in the race or in the garage, to cause a violation of his NASCAR probation, which stems from a post-race incident last month with Kevin Harvick at Darlington, S.C.

    In an interview with Speed prior to Sunday’s race, Busch was asked if the altercation was the result of something brewing between himself and the RCR organization.

    “That’s not something I can answer. I wasn’t the aggressor or the instigator here,” he said. “So, all I can say is I was just trying to head back to my hauler and handle my business.”

   According to a member of a Truck team who asked not to be identified, Childress took off his jewelry before approaching Busch in the garage area and struck him with his fist.

   The two were separated, traded insults and then Childress grabbed Busch in a headlock and struck him again before the incident was broken up.

   The crew member said Childress initiated the incident.

    “We have met with all parties involved and have determined what happened (Saturday) is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by NASCAR,” a statement from the sanctioning body read.

    “Richard Childress’ actions were not appropriate and fell far short of the standard we expect of owners in this sport.”

    Busch said he would try to put the incident behind him while he awaits NASCAR’s response to the incident.

    “It may be a thought on everybody’s else’s mind but when you get a helmet on and get back behind the wheel of a race car, you get down to business and that’s what matters most,” he said.
   The cause of Childress’ frustration was likely tied to the conclusion of the race, during which one of Childress’ drivers, Joey Coulter, and Busch bumped each other battling for fifth place on the final lap.

   Coulter ended up with the position but on the cool-down lap, Busch ran into the right side of Coulter’s truck.

   “I learned a ton (riding) behind (Busch) and I know why those guys keep saying what they do. That was really awesome racing him,” Coulter said after the race. “I hate we got together on the last lap. I had never gotten tight next to somebody so I was underneath him expecting to get loose and I get tight and we kind of got together.”

   In interviews on pit road, in the media center or on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio following the race, Coulter didn’t indicate any animosity with Busch.

Full text of NASCAR statement regarding Richard Childress and Kyle Busch

   "NASCAR has reviewed the incident involving Richard Childress and Kyle Busch after the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday at Kansas Speedway. We have met with all parties involved and have determined what happened yesterday is unacceptable and will not be tolerated by NASCAR.

   "Richard Childress’s actions were not appropriate and fell far short of the standard we expect of owners in this sport. We have met with Childress this morning and made our position very clear to him. Further, we expect he will make it clear to all in his organization to ensure this situation does not escalate any further. We will announce our actions regarding this incident Monday.

   "Kyle Busch remains on probation with NASCAR and we continue to watch his actions carefully. However, we have determined that Kyle’s involvement in this incident does not violate his probation and no further action is required."