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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. gets fined, Ricky Stenhouse Sr. suspended for fight with Kyle Busch



Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  gets fined, Ricky Stenhouse Sr.  suspended for fight with Kyle Busch

NASCAR imposed Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. fined $75,000 and suspended his father and two crew members from JTG Daugherty Racing for their role in a fight that occurred after Sunday night’s All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Upset over an on-track incident that knocked him out of the race, Stenhouse confronted Kyle Busch after the race and punched Busch in the head after they exchanged words. Busch was not fined or punished.

Stenhouse’s father, Ricky Stenhouse Sr., was suspended indefinitely for joining the physical altercation, following past precedent in which NASCAR objects to family members injecting themselves in confrontations.

Two crew members from JTG Daugherty Racing, Stenhouse’s team, were also suspended for their involvement. NASCAR suspended team mechanic Clint Myrick for eight races and tuner Keith Matthews received a four-week suspension.

Wednesday’s penalties are the fallout from an incident between Stenhouse and Busch during the opening laps of the All-Star Race, which became the catalyst for the post-race fight in the garage.


Stenhouse punches Busch after NASCAR All-Star Race

The chain of events began when Busch was upset over what he perceived as an overly aggressive move by Stenhouse on lap 1, prompting Busch to retaliate on the next circuit by spinning Stenhouse’s car and sending him crashing into the wall . With his car too badly damaged to continue driving, Stenhouse parked his Chevrolet in Busch’s pit box before getting out and climbing a ladder to yell at Busch’s team.

Stenhouse then vowed revenge during a nationally televised interview on FS1, essentially stating that he would wait for Busch after the 200-lap race. Nearly 90 minutes later, and just after the checkered flag waved, Stenhouse was waiting for Busch in the garage, casually leaning against the RCR No. 8 team dumper as Busch approached.

After exchanging words about the track incident, Stenhouse punched Busch, causing a fight between members of their teams, including Ricky Stenhouse Sr. who shoved Busch. One could say Stenhouse Jr. heard saying “Dad” several times as his father and Busch crowded around, with Busch appearing to throw a punch at the elder Stenhouse.

The fight was over within seconds, but a video of the incident went viral.

“I’m not sure why he was so angry,” Stenhouse Jr. said. after the battle at FS1. “I pushed him three wide but he hit the fence, came off the wall and ran into me. I don’t know, when I talked to him he kept saying I broke him.

“Definitely built up frustration with how he talks about myself all the time. But I know he’s frustrated because he’s not running as well as he used to.”

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, told SiriusXM that officials chose not to penalize Busch for the crash that preceded the fight because they did not consider it completely intentional.

“We as a sanctioning body really stay out of track incidents unless we see something that blatantly comes back to us,” Sawyer said. “We let those guys decide and agree to disagree.”

Sawyer reiterated that crew members and family members are not allowed to “handle our athletes,” but declined to elaborate on the specific reasoning because the penalties are subject to appeal. He said NASCAR Stenhouse Jr. imposed a fine because, despite the long wait after the incident on the track, he still decided to work physically with Busch.

NASCAR handled the fight between Stenhouse and Busch similarly to how it handled a fight last fall after a Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in which a parent was participating.

In that situation, Matt Crafton, who crashed out of the race, waited for Nick Sanchez after the race to confront him. Crafton threw a punch that broke Sánchez’s nose. Crafton was fined $25,000, Sanchez received no penalty and Sanchez’s father was suspended for two races for his involvement in the altercation.

Normally, NASCAR tolerates physical confrontations between drivers, provided they occur immediately afterwards and do not have time to cool down. NASCAR is not so lenient when parents get involved and usually responds by issuing a suspension.

Why NASCAR issued these fines

Let’s start with the crew members and Stenhouse Sr.

Historically, NASCAR has viewed crew members the same way the NHL views the “third man in” because of its rules of engagement. NASCAR is somewhat okay with drivers taking care of things themselves (so only a fine and no suspension for Stenhouse, and no penalties at all for Busch). But NASCAR definitely doesn’t want drivers to be targeted by a third party and has discouraged such behavior with stiff penalties to send a message.

Stenhouse Sr. is not a crew member, so it is slightly easier for NASCAR to issue an indefinite suspension for his role. But he also aggressively went after Busch, who is highly frowned upon as a family member.

As for Myrick and Matthews, the punishments seem a bit harsh compared to the past – especially for Myrick. Eight races is a lot, especially for a mechanic from a medium-sized team. But NASCAR must have felt that Myrick was being particularly excessive with his role, and it certainly sends a message to other crew members not to get involved in future fights.

(Photo: Peter Casey / USA Today)