News & Media

Was Childress/Busch clash good for the sport?

June 06, 2011, ,

Saturday afternoon, after some minor contact on the Truck Series' cool-down lap between Kyle Busch and Richard Childress Racing driver Joey Coulter, Richard Childress decided to take matters into his own hands. Literally. There was an altercation between the two in the Truck garage, leading to a $150,000 fine and probation for the rest of the year for Childress. The ensuing publicity led to tons of exposure online, on TV and in print media.

Is the Childress/Busch altercation good for NASCAR?


Are you kidding? Of course this is good for the sport.

Whether or not Childress was out of line for attacking Busch in the garage area following last Saturday's Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway may be debatable, but there is no debate that this is a great story for a sport built on them.

Childress, 65, reportedly handed off his watch and other items to his grandson, Austin Dillon, and then proceeded to do what many in the garage area have wanted to do for a long time. He struck Busch with his fist. Sources said the two then were briefly separated and traded verbal insults, after which Childress grabbed the 26-year-old Busch, put him in a headlock and attempted to strike him again before the grandfather was restrained for good.

Storylines don't get much better than that, especially when it's taken into consideration that Childress candidly admitted he had a score to settle with Busch after Kyle knocked around the No. 29 Chevrolet Childress owns both during and after the recent Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington. Then Childress followed through, old-school style.

Was he right? Probably not, as evidenced by the $150,000 fine handed to him on Monday by NASCAR, which also placed Childress on one of its infamous probations until Dec. 31. Was it worth it? To Childress, almost certainly so.

Was it great for the sport, in terms of generating interest and once again illustrating how passionate these guys are about what they do even at what is at or past retirement age for most of America? No doubt.

Joe Menzer, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

If you are not a believer in the "any publicity is good publicity" idea, then you can't possibly think the idea of an owner going rogue and allegedly punching a driver is a good thing for this sport.

For those outside the sport who don't follow it, there are plenty of people who believe it's just a bunch of rednecks turning left (and occasionally right). A 65-year-old owner walking up to a 26-year-old in the garage, reportedly putting him in a headlock and punching him isn't going to do much to erase those thoughts.

If you're asking me if I enjoyed it? I can't lie and say I didn't. I dug everywhere for new details, reading every account I could find. But much like TMZ and Perez Hilton and others, it's just lowest common denominator stuff. And interest built on sideshows isn't really interest in the sport at all.

NASCAR wants to put itself in the conversation with the Big Four sports. No one in hockey trumpets its most brutal fights as a reason people should come to the games. A baseball brawl does not get used as marketing for upcoming games.

Of course there are fights, and there will be in NASCAR as well. Heck, one of its most well-known moments was a fight during a race. But this specific incident, even with all the admittedly funny jokes it inspired on Twitter, was not a shining light in the sport's history.

Sure, NASCAR got a ton of mentions on newscasts, websites and sport section pages. The story was a big hit, and obviously drew attention. But is it really the kind of publicity that will help continue to grow the sport? Not in the slightest.

Jill Erwin, NASCAR.COM

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer.

But was this headline-grabbing clash good for NASCAR? Joe Menzer and Jill Erwin have their thoughts. Read theirs and weigh in with your own in the comments below. And don't forget to vote for whose argument you agree with more in the poll at the right.