Smacked Around

Aug 22, 2003

Those who don’t follow NASCAR — and, if I know my small reading audience well, that’s nearly all of you — probably missed all the fun that Jimmy Spencer and Kurt Busch had over the weekend. See Kurt Busch gave Jimmy Spencer a nice little bump during the race. Jimmy Spencer returned the favor with his fists shortly after the last lap was run.

This isn’t the first time the two of them have tussled. This is, however, the first time it came to blows. After running out of gas following the race, Kurt found an angry Spencer swinging at him through the driver’s side window. He’ll race next week with a broken nose and a missing tooth. Spencer won’t be racing next week at all.

The trouble is, I can’t feel sorry for either of them, even poor little slanted-nose Kurt. I can’t defend Spencer’s wild sting-like-a-bee move but Mr. Busch isn’t Mr. Innocent. As they say, he had it coming.

The event before the impromptu boxing match, also known as the race, took place at Michigan, a track that sports some of the fastest speeds of any track on the NASCAR circuit. Kurt’s bump of Spencer’s car wasn’t an accident. How do we know? Let’s listen in on his pit radio:

Busch: ”See, I’m not very good at being bad. I was trying to flatten the [No.] 7 car [Spencer] fender and I got mine. I needed to be further forward on his car.”

Why would he do such a thing? There are two reasons that come to mind. One, he could ruin the Spencer’s areodynamics. Bang him up and he slows down. Two, he could make Spencer cut a tire. A blown tire normally means the driver gets a very rough reception from a nearby concrete wall. The move was classless and, unlike this weekend’s trip to Bristol, where such tactics are almost encouraged due to the small track and slow speeds, dangerous.

Incidents on the track are often referred to as “racing deals”. Incidents at any other time are personal. That, in my opinion, is bullshit. A “racing deal” is every bit as personal at 200 mph. It involves much more than a pretty little face. It involves a life. Note to drivers: don’t be surprised when you get a spanking for a dumb-headed move on the track.

By the way, those who have even a little interest in NASCAR would be served well by watching this weekend’s tussle at Bristol Motor Speedway (here’s an entry about the last Bristol race). Yeah, yeah, it’s all about cars that go in a circle. But this circle is really, really small. And there are lots of cars. Tempers flare and helmets fly. That’s where I’ll be on Saturday night, at least in spirit. I’ll actually be looking for a beer to accompany me and the wife on the couch.

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