NASCAR benefits from Ricky Stenhouse, fines him anyway, and yes we're all hypocrites

The usual suspects weigh in, in their usual fashion.

And while it might be tacky to do such a thing the day after he was announced as a new NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee, let’s give some of the blame to Dean Sicking.

We’ll explain that connection shortly, but first, the particulars. NASCAR has fined Ricky Stenhouse Jr. $75,000 for his roundhouse right to the head of Kyle Busch following Sunday night’s All Star Race.

Two of Ricky’s crew members have been suspended for a chunk of races, and for good measure, NASCAR also suspended Ricky’s dad indefinitely for his co-star role in the theatrics.

Ricky Stenhouse with the stare-down before things heated up in a hurry.
Ricky Stenhouse with the stare-down before things heated up in a hurry.

REACTIONS Drivers, fans, Dale Jr. blast NASCAR penalties this week on Ricky Stenhouse Jr.: 'I don't get it'

“Can you get my dad?” It was one of several money quotes from the scene, and a lot of ex-Little League and Pop Warner kids remember uttering those unfortunate words at some point in their youth.

If you think that’s a new wrinkle on NASCAR tussles, how about someone bringing granddad into the fray? “Social” media was abuzz Wednesday morning with video of Richard Childress, Kyle Busch’s team owner, suggesting Ricky shouldn’t follow through on threats to continue things on the track at Charlotte this coming weekend.

Richard, of course, had his own issues with Kyle Busch over a decade ago. After Kyle wrecked one of Richard’s Truck Series entries, Richard found Kyle after the race and famously told someone nearby, “Hold my watch,” before launching into some payback.

Richard Childress delivers a message

All these years later, Kyle is one of Richard’s drivers and Richard still doesn’t take well to someone threatening to wreck his equipment. So, even at 78, he had a warning for Ricky.

”When I see him,” he began, “I’m gonna tell him … I’m older, but I’ve just changed my style of fighting. I don’t fight as fair as I used to. He’ll carry a rough ass-beatin’.”

Man, the fodder for T-shirt slogans just won’t stop with this one, will it?

After letting Richard’s words digest, everyone’s attention turned to Ricky’s fine and the suspensions. Well, mostly the fine, which is bringing howls of hypocrisy accusations against NASCAR.

Like it or not, most of us — and by most, I mean damn near all — have a certain degree of hypocrite in us. NASCAR long ago, and smartly, decided there was no retrospective shame in promoting aspects of this rough-and-tumble game they’d rather avoid on the front end.

(All of the other sports-entertainment vehicles are in compliance with that theory, by the way.)

Horrible accidents show up in commercials touting the next Talladega or Daytona race, and driver confrontations are milked for all they’re worth with the same goal in mind: Eyeballs.

Ricky Stenhouse has given NASCAR millions in free publicity this week, yet he’s fined $75,000 for throwing the punch?

Well, yeah, of course. That’s today’s price of poker. Imagine a racing world where drivers and crewmen were green-lighted for post-race brawls. Some of you would be fine with that, but you run the real risk of drama for the sake of drama, as well as eventual escalation once we got bored with haymakers and headlocks.

Over here in the more civilized world, we realize boys will be boys at times, but someone has to police things.

Dean Sicking is a savior who helped create this

Back to Dr. Dean Sicking and the engineer's indirect role in such things. Twenty or so years ago, in the wake of the Dale Earnhardt tragedy that birthed racing’s modern safety revolution, Sicking became synonymous with the SAFER Barrier he invented and perfected.

Tuesday during voting for the next NASCAR Hall of Fame class, Sicking received the most votes among five nominees for the Hall’s annual Landmark Award for Outstanding Contributions. Literally saving lives still counts for something.

Others have contributed mightily to the safety advances — HANS inventors Jim Downing and Bob Hubbard, of course, along with everyone at NASCAR R&D who greatly improved the chassis and cockpit.

The unintended consequence, it seems, is an incremental growth of a bulletproof vibe. Not only are driver injuries extremely rare in the 21st Century, but the newest generation of stock cars are far more durable than the predecessors.

Perhaps subconsciously — let’s give benefit of the doubt here — drivers must feel more comfortable with the equivalent of a hip-check or fastball to the ribs entering Turn 3. What’s a little bent sheet-metal among friends?

While not common, these things aren’t exactly uncommon, either. And sometimes they lead to extracurriculars like we saw Sunday night in North Wilkesboro

We need these things now and then as a reminder these are real emotions and real people. It’s all part of the bigger picture, which includes an occasional fine, suspensions and, for an “indefinite” amount of time, a Sunday reservation on the recliner for dear ol’ dad.

Reach Ken Willis at

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: NASCAR fines Ricky Stenhouse yet benefits from him; 'Get my dad'