In an extremely rare move, NASCAR suspended driver Kyle Busch from competing in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races in Texas this weekend as a penalty for Busch intentionally wrecking another driver in a truck race Friday night.
Busch, long known for his aggressive driving, shoved the truck driven by championship contender Ron Hornaday Jr. into the wall during a caution period after the two had tangled in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
After meeting Saturday morning with Busch and his team owner, NFL Hall of Fame coach Joe Gibbs, NASCAR President Mike Helton announced Busch's suspension from the Nationwide race later Saturday and the Sprint Cup race on Sunday.
Busch, driver of the No. 18 Toyota in the Cup series, is one of the 12 drivers competing for the series title in the "Chase for the Cup" playoff. He's currently seventh in the standings, 57 points behind leader Carl Edwards.
Although NASCAR has let drivers settle more of their on-track differences on their own -- the so-called "Boys, have at it" policy -- Helton told reporters in Texas that Busch went too far, prompting NASCAR to take the rare step of benching a driver for an upcoming race.
"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," Helton said, adding that "we saw it last night."
Gibbs said Denny Hamlin would drive Busch's car in the Nationwide race, and Michael McDowell would replace Busch in the Cup race.
Gibbs told reporters in Texas that he supported NASCAR and had "great faith in the decisions they make."
"This was a tough one for us," Gibbs said. "You don't like it but we're certainly going to try and work our way through this one and do the right thing and try and handle it the right way."
Photo: The No. 33 truck driven by Ron Hornaday Jr. is pushed into the wall by the truck of driver Kyle Busch during the NASCAR Truck Series race on Friday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Credit: David Kent / McClatchy-Tribune