Kurt Busch has been fined $50,000 for "actions detrimental to stock car racing" after his expletive-laced rant while waiting for a potential interview with ESPN and pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch during last Sunday's Ford 400.
NASCAR determined that Kurt Busch violated Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing — inappropriate hand gesture; abusive language) of the 2011 NASCAR Rule Book.
In issuing the penalty, NASCAR cited Kurt Busch's "poor judgment in making an inappropriate hand gesture" when he drove his car into the garage early in the race after it experienced transmission problems. In addition, NASCAR said Kurt Busch showed "disrespect towards a media member," an incident that followed similar inappropriate media confrontations earlier in the season.
Busch was shown on his in-car camera flipping someone off as he was pulling into the garage. The previous incident mentioned involved Busch ripping a reporter's transcript in half when asked about comments at the Richmond race before the Chase.
Kudos to NASCAR for immediately making this fine public. The last time (that we know) a driver was fined for comments was Brad Keselowski, when he was monetarily punished for his words about electronic fuel injection at a NASCAR fan forum. That fine was initially a "secret" fine and was reported two weeks after Keselowski's comments took place.
In a press conference before Sunday's race, NASCAR chairman Brian France said that NASCAR didn't see a benefit to having a public fining system "at the time" but that the sanctioning body would take a look at fining procedures in the offseason.
"The way we looked at it, what would be the benefit?" France said. "The drivers know exactly what we're after. We have these annual meetings with them, right? And then we have semi-annual meetings with them, and we meet with them every weekend at the track. We have formal meetings in the off-season.
"So they know exactly what we expect out of them. When they don't handle that, the only way we can control that is obviously a fining system. But look, don't panic over this. We'll look at it in the off-season, if we need to change it, we'll change it. Not a big deal."