By David G. Firestone
The Daytona 500 is behind us, the NASCAR season is underway. The race was great, Joey Logano finally lived up to the lofty expectations set on him when he was a rookie. Jeff Gordon has raced in his last Daytona 500 in his regular career, though I won’t rule out that he might come back for the 500 at some point. All in all it should have been a great weekend for NASCAR, but while the sun shone over Daytona, there was a dark cloud hanging over NASCAR this weekend.
The dark cloud started in November, when allegations against Kurt Busch came to light. Patricia Driscol, Kurt’s ex girlfriend went to the police and alleged that Kurt had assaulted her, during the fall race at Dover in September. Between then and Thursday, a series of court hearing took place. On Monday, Busch was ordered to stay away from Driscoll, as the court had deemed that “an act of domestic abuse had taken place.” As a direct result of that ruling, on Friday, he was indefinitely suspended from NASCAR. Busch appealed TWICE on Saturday, and lost both appeals, and is now indefinitely suspended from NASCAR.
I stated when the story first broke in November, that I would wait until the facts are fully known before I would take a side. Now that those facts have come to light, I will state the following: Under NO circumstances is domestic abuse ever acceptable! Kurt’s actions are totally unacceptable, and he should be suspended for at least the 2015 season, minimum. I don’t feel bad at all for Kurt, he will lose a lot of money, his career is probably over, and he will face criminal charges, and he deserves it. Anyone who hits a spouse, or children does not deserve sympathy. I don’t feel bad for Busch, Ray Rice, or Chris Brown, because men should NEVER hit women!
NASCAR took some heat in waiting as long as they did, but they said that they would wait for the facts to come out before they made a decision. I think that it was a wise move. They did the same thing with Tony Stewart last year as well. People in this day in age want immediate reactions, immediate suspensions, and immediate discipline. I get that, but doing it fast should never take precedence over doing it right.
With this story in mind, I sat down to watch the Alert Today Florida 300 on Saturday. I was treated to a great race…until lap 113, when there was “The Big One” and Kyle Busch was sent into a concrete wall near turn 2, nearly head on at an estimated 90 MPH, and had to be helped from his car. He was taken to Halifax Medical Center, and was diagnosed with a severe compound fracture in his right leg, as well as a broken foot.
The wall he hit was a simple concrete wall, no tires, or SAFR barrier. How in the world can there be any track, much less Daytona International Speedway, that has concrete walls with no energy absorbing materials? I get the $500 a foot price tag is a bit hefty, but when something like this happens, drivers and fans demand answers, and action. As such, there will be improvements starting today at Daytona, but how many more times does this have to happen, seriously? How many top shelf drivers will be sidelined with injuries because of cost cutting? WHEN WILL THIS STOP? I hate having to call out racing sanctioning bodies for seemingly stupid safety issues, I really do, but why does this keep happening? I wanted to write a story about how great Daytona was, and how much fun I had, but I can’t! I’ll finish this article now, as I’m too angry to finish.