Actions Detrimental To The Sport John Hayes

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As usual, the fallout of a huge race such as the Brickyard 400 leaves
some good notes and a few not so pleasant ones. Let's look back at a
few of each.

Actions detrimental to the sport are basically actions performed by
people within the sport of auto racing which are deemed to cast a poor
light on the overall image of the sport. It's probably not Webster's
definition but in my view, it's close enough.

Some of these actions take place on the race track and some of them
happen afterwards in the garage area. Some are spur of the moment
reactions while others are pre-meditated. Some are very dangerous
while others just make you laugh hysterically. Are some actions more
detrimental than others? Can these actions go too far and wind up being
detrimental to yourself? You bet.

Let's examine the Kurt Busch/Jimmy Spencer incident from lap 36 at the
Brickyard 400. Whether or not the contact initiated by Jimmy Spencer
was intentional or not is up for debate. Given the past history of the
two men involved, I find it very difficult to believe that it was
accidental. Jimmy Spencer could have badly injured Kurt Busch given
that the contact occurred at one of the fastest points on the race
track. Not to mention that Busch had perhaps the fastest car on the
track during the season's second biggest race. Spencer's contact was
most definitely detrimental to Busch, his Roush race car, and his chance
of winning.

Kurt Busch's actions following the ordeal admittedly made me chuckle.
It's not often you see a WC driver pointing to his rump at another
driver. It was immature but it didn't hurt anybody. It may have been
detrimental to the younger fans who may now make the "smooch my butt"
signal a common playground gesture, but nothing more.

Now, what about Kurt Busch's comments? Sticks and stones and hitting
the wall at 200 MPH may break your bones but some words can certainly
hurt you, too. When Busch referred to the "has-beens he qualified in
the back with", he didn't just single out Spencer. He included a whole
extra group of drivers that had nothing to do with the accident or why
Busch started back there in the first place. Why Kurt opened up that
can of worms, I'll never know. However, you had better believe that he
lost a lot of respect from the people that should matter to him most -
his fellow competitors. If Kurt is leading a race and he attempts to
lap one of these "has-beens", do you think he'll get a break and a easy
pass? No. What if Busch is a lap down and heading for a caution trying
to get it back? Do you think the leader will just let Busch go? It
depends on who is leading but likely, no. Kurt's words weren't
necessarily detrimental to the sport, but they may haunt him for weeks,
maybe even years, to come.

How about this whole Tony Stewart mess? Incidents on the track between
fellow drivers are expected to happen from time to time. However,
physical violence towards anybody, particularly a non-driver, is totally
unacceptable.

Does Stewart have a right to be frustrated from something that happened
on the track? Sure he does but don't take it out on someone who had
nothing to do with the cause of the frustration. It is a very sad
incident in many ways. First, it overshadowed the great victory by Bill
Elliott on many media outlets and was a black eye for WC racing.
Second, it ruined all the good behavior Stewart had been on until this
weekend. Just when you think he turned a new leaf, BAM! Third, you
would think Stewart would have picked a worker from a newspaper not so
close to his hometown in Indiana. Stewart can use all the supporters he
could get and alienating some of his home state fans is never a good
thing.

I give Stewart credit in that he has admitted he has a problem with
anger management. He has pledged to seek professional help and that is
very admirable maneuver. However, his actions were truly detrimental to
himself, his sponsor, and the sport as a whole. Let's hope Tony can
resolve his issues and this sort of thing doesn't happen again.

Now, it's time to hand out some positive credit to some very deserving
people.

Obviously, congrats go out to Bill Elliott who completes a most
difficult Triple Crown in winning the Daytona 500, the Southern 500, and
the Brickyard 400 at some point in his career. The last four winners of
the Brickyard have gone on to win the Winston Cup and with Elliott's and
Ray Evernham's championship experience, Bill could make it five in a
row.

Steve Park turned in an astounding performance Sunday. Not only was his
7th place run his first top ten since his injury, but he did so after is
nasty crash just a week before at Pocono. Given the slight trouble he
has in speaking, I still don't think Park is at 100%. However, I would
rather have a 90% Steve Park behind my wheel over most 100% drivers out
there today.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2002

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