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NASCAR VIEW: Making Kurt Busch eligible for Chase was terrible decision by NASCAR

Posted On Friday, 13 March 2015 20:00 Written by
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What are you thinking, NASCAR?

Seriously: What possible rationale could there be for you allowing a waiver to Kurt Busch that allows him to be Chase eligible if he wins a race and ends the regular season in the top-30 in points?

Let's look at the facts: Busch has missed the first three races of the season after being suspended for actions detrimental to stock car racing; the decision came down prior to the Daytona 500, when a restraining order was issued against Busch in regard to an incident that happened last fall at Dover involving his ex Patricia Driscoll.

He is now reinstated, after the attorney general in Delaware declined to press charges; and I agree that is merited. Without charges, he should be allowed to return.

But riddle me this, NASCAR: How does it make sense that you allow someone who was suspended for actions detrimental to the sport to still be Chase-eligible? What possible basis is there for that decision?

Here is the offical NASCAR explanation:
“As we stated last week, the elimination of the possibility of criminal charges removed a significant impediment to Kurt Busch’s return to full status as a NASCAR member,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR Executive Vice President and Chief Racing Development Officer. “We therefore have decided to move him to indefinite probation and waive the Chase requirement. He has fully complied with our reinstatement program during his suspension and the health care expert who conducted his evaluation recommended his immediate return.
“We have made it very clear to Kurt Busch our expectations for him moving forward, which includes participation in a treatment program and full compliance with all judicial requirements as a result of his off-track behavior.”

In essence, they are saying that their own rules mean nothing, and their suspensions are essentially meaningless.

I understand granting a waiver for people with medical conditions -- you don't want unhealthy people racing and it's not their fault they are sick.

I can even understand Tony Stewart's waiver last year after the tragedy in New York. He was in no mental condition to race and, again, it wasn't something he intended to do.

But this Kurt Busch situation has no basis whatsoever for a waiver. The original intent of the Chase setup is to allow drivers who run all the races to be eligible for the Chase. With each additional waiver, Busch's being the final straw, the camel's back is officially broken -- those rules about Chase eligibility mean nothing. After this, there's no way any other waiver request can be denied -- I mean, the guy was suspended BY NASCAR, and still got a waiver upon returning. 

And NASCAR has made themselves look silly in the process. i agreed with their decision to suspend Busch once the restraining order was issued. Regardless of what happened in that room (and we'll never know, as it's a he said she said situation), Busch put himself in a bad situation that represented the sport in a negative light.

If what he did is worthy of suspension, how does a lack of charges make him eligible to make the Chase? It literally makes no sense, and I'm not sure what sort of twisted logic ran through the minds of everyone in Daytona Beach. Allowing him to be Chase-eligible should never have been considered.

I don't think Busch will win a race, or make the top 30 in points, after missing the first three races. He starts out with zero championship points. He'll have to run strong every week to do that.

But if Busch can pull it off, and then contends for the title, NASCAR will have a big old mess on their hands, as they'll be exposed as a sanctioning body whose rules mean nothing and who committed the most unnecessary disciplinary flip-flop in recent sports history. can be found on Twitter @AutoTechReview, or stay updated at the AutoTechReviews Facebook page.

Matt Myftiu can be found on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Matt M. Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

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