While racing for second position on the 14th lap of the race, Hornday and Busch got three-wide going into Turn 1. Hornaday appeared to move up to pass a slower car, making it three-wide. Hornaday got a little loose and made contact with Busch, who was on his outside, in Turns 1 and 2.
Hornaday continued wiggling, trying to regain control of his truck. The two made contact again and both bounced of the wall. Both appeared to have tire rubs and cosmetic damage, but certainly nothing that would put them out of the race.
The caution came out and Hornaday was making his way back to pit road. Busch drove into the back of Hornaday and pushed him through Turn 3 wide open. He kept on Hornaday’s bumper, eventually turning him into the outside wall head-on. Hornaday made hard contact with the wall, but walked away from the incident.
Hornaday was a championship contender going into the race, but thanks to Busch, he will not win it this year. Busch was immediately parked for the remainder of the race.
On Saturday morning, Busch was then parked for the rest of the weekend’s events.
NASCAR president Mike Helton said:
The responsibility over the past two or three seasons we’ve given back to the drivers came, I think with a very clear understanding that there could be a line that got crossed. As annoying as the comments that I’ve made personally in the past about ‘we’ll know it when we see it’ might have been, we saw it [Friday] night. Obviously after the event, a lot of folks put their heads together to decide what, if anything, we would do. The volume of occurrences or reactions like I’m talking about, the rarity of those times that we’d make a step like this speak to the uniqueness and the severity of the topic. We understand the ramifications or the ripple effect of us making this type of a move, but we also take our responsibility very serious as to maintaining control of the event in all the garages; so it’s a balance there that we ultimately have to make a decision.
In response to NASCAR’s decision, Joe Gibbs Racing’s (Busch’s Sprint Cup team) owner Joe Gibbs said:
What we’re going to try to do now, [as in the past, with other situations involving Busch] we’ve tried to handle those things the right way and tried to make the right decisions and certainly that’s what we’re going to try to do with this.
Denny Hamlin was named to drive Busch’s Nationwide Series Toyota and Michael McDowell will drive JGR’s No. 18 Sprint Cup car.
This is the harshest punishment to date that NASCAR has issued since they instructed the drivers to “have at it.” This should serve as a warning to other drivers that “have at it” only goes so far.
An interesting note about the penatly, though, is that JGR is also punished by Busch’s actions when he was driving for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports team.