News & Media

Busch says Coulter's truck damage unintentional

June 10, 2011, David Caraviello,

LONG POND, Pa. -- Kyle Busch said he never intended to damage the truck of Joey Coulter in cool-down lap contact a week ago that served as a flashpoint for a physical altercation between Busch and Coulter's truck owner, Richard Childress, in the garage area at Kansas Speedway.

"I didn't feel like I hit him all that hard," Busch said Friday at Pocono Raceway, site of Sunday's Sprint Cup event. "I just feel like I rubbed him a little bit. Typically when you rub a guy, you don't see much damage from it. But the trucks are so different, too. I forgot how on a truck, the left front fender ... is so much wider than the tire is. It kind of sticks out a little but further. So maybe there was more damage than I thought I would have caused. That's entirely my fault. I'm the one that instigated it there."

"I forgot how on a truck, the left front fender ... is so much wider than the tire is. So maybe there was more damage than I thought I would have caused. That's entirely my fault. I'm the one that instigated it there."


Busch and Coulter battled for position over the final 20 laps in last Saturday's Camping World Truck Series event, with the RCR rookie eventually overtaking the Sprint Cup star for fifth on the final circuit. Afterward Busch pulled alongside the No. 22 truck and banged it door-to-door, contact Busch said was "congratulatory," although Coulter and his truck owner both seemed to interpret it as something else.

Afterward, the 65-year-old Childress went after Busch in the garage area, an action for which NASCAR fined him $150,000 and placed him on probation for the rest of the year. Had he known how upset Childress was about the damage, "I would have offered him money to fix it," Busch said. "I'm an owner in this sport. I know there's going to be torn-up equipment here and there." Busch also said he never intended to damage Coulter's vehicle, despite what some believe.

"There can be an easy way to interpret things sometimes, and it seems like I might be on the wrong end of interpretation a lot of those times," he said. "There was no malicious intent to be hurting or damaging an RCR vehicle."

In a brief statement to the media Friday morning, Childress said he would pay the fine out of his own pocket, accepting responsibility for his actions even as he conceded he wasn't happy with how NASCAR handled the cool-down lap contact between Busch and Coulter.

"I take all the responsibility for my actions last week," Childress said, echoing a statement he released earlier in the week. "I'm very passionate about this sport, passionate about my race teams, the fans, and I let my emotions get in front of my passion. But that's behind us. I guess the next thing is, the fine that was levied against me, I'm going to pay it personally. I agree that NASCAR should have done something. I don't agree that they didn't handle the situation that happened on the cool-down lap."

The incident between Busch and Coulter followed another weeks earlier between Busch and another RCR driver, Kevin Harvick, in the final laps of the Sprint Cup event at Darlington. That led to a summit in the NASCAR hauler during which, Busch said, Childress did not speak to him. If there was ever a warning from Childress to not make contact with another RCR vehicle, Busch said it wasn't conveyed to him personally.

"I don't recall any time face-to-face conversations where Richard told me, 'If you touch another one of my cars, I'm going to come find you,' " Busch said. "I don't know if it was ever said in the media, but it was never relayed to me."

Childress said he has received donations from fans intending to defray the cost of his fine, but that the money will instead be sent to the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma in Winston-Salem, N.C. "At least in every bad situation, something good will come of it," Childress said. "Hopefully Kyle and myself will both end up learning something from this."

It's been a trying few weeks for Busch, who late last month was ticketed for driving a sports car well in excess of the speed limit on a rural road north of Charlotte. Older brother Kurt Busch, who has faced his own share of travails in NASCAR, tried to provide some advice last Sunday when the two spoke during driver introductions prior to the Sprint Cup event at Kansas.

"He's got a lot of things going on in his life -- good things with his truck program, running all the Nationwide races that he does, and of course the Cup side of it," Kurt said. "I just told him, don't waver to what's gotten you to this point. Stay true to yourself. Stay firm with how you're racing on the track. Don't change. At the end of the day, just try and smile more. I think he's trying to take everything, trying to be a perfectionist with it all and it's really hard to do that at the level he's trying to do it."