KANSAS CITY, Kan. — NASCAR cleared Kyle Busch for his role in an altercation with 65-year-old car owner Richard Childress after the Trucks Series race at Kansas Speedway.
Childress might not be so lucky.
NASCAR president Mike Helton said Sunday that Busch didn’t violate his probation during the incident Saturday night.
Busch “did nothing that would have warranted the actions of Richard Childress,” said Helton, who declined to discuss details of what occurred between the two.
According to a Los Angeles Times report, Childress went to the garage area, put Busch in a headlock and punched him more than once before the two were separated.
Busch finished behind Richard Childress Racing driver Joey Coulter in the Trucks race after the two had a spirited late battle for position. Busch drove up beside Coulter’s truck following the race, but Helton said Busch did nothing to jeopardize his status.
“We haven’t seen anything that indicated Kyle violated his probation on the race track (Saturday) or in the garage area,” Helton said.
Busch confirmed in a brief interview with Speed TV on Sunday that the altercation with Childress occurred as he was leaving his hauler.
“I wasn’t the aggressor or the instigator here,” Busch said when asked if animosity had been brewing between his team and RCR. “I think the best thing to do is just try to put it behind you as best you can.
“Obviously it might be a thought on everyone else’s mind, but when you get a helmet on and get back behind the wheel of a race car and get down to business, that’s what matters most.”
Helton was allowed to stay for Sunday’s Sprint Cup race in Kansas because his team needs leadership, Helton said. A statement released Sunday by NASCAR called the incident Saturday “unacceptable,” adding that Childress’ actions fall “far short of the standard we expect of owners.”
“Once we get (Sunday’s) race concluded, which is the focus of the day, we’ll have to decide what NASCAR’s reaction is to Richard Childress as a member of NASCAR in an action against another NASCAR member.”
NASCAR said it met with Childress on Sunday morning and made it clear that it didn’t want the situation to escalate.
Childress wasn’t available for comment. But Busch’s team owner, Joe Gibbs, said he agreed with NASCAR’s handling of the incident.
“Kyle is focused on the racing,” Gibbs said. “We’re comfortable that NASCAR has done a good job of working through this situation.”