When you go 128 mph in a 45-mph zone, there’s really no excuse.
Kyle Busch was test-driving a new sportscar Tuesday – a yellow Lexus, with his wife Samantha in the passenger seat -- and said in a statement he got “carried away.” An Iredell County Sheriff’s Deputy clocked Busch driving 128 mph in a 45-mph zone – a staggering 83 mph over the speed limit.
Put it another way -- that’s almost three times the legal limit.
Busch, 26, is a race driver of stunning talent. And this is a mistake of stunning magnitude. I know no one got hurt, and thank God for that. But please… don’t discount this as “Just speeding.” Getting caught going 68 mph in a 60-mph zone is just speeding.
This was Busch recklessly endangering lives – including his own and the life of his wife. I know he's used to danger -- it's part of his job. But what about those he might have met on that road?
Busch released a statement Tuesday that read in part: “I went beyond the speed I should have been going on a public road. I apologize to the public, my fans, sponsors and race teams for my lack of judgment. I take responsibilities for my actions and I can assure you that something like this will never happen again.”
Now I’m glad Busch is apologizing, but that’s not enough.
Joe Gibbs, who employs Busch as the owner of Joe Gibbs racing, is one of the most decent and honest men I’ve ever met. He needs to make a statement here – that driving 128 mph on a public road can’t and won’t be tolerated.
If I’m Gibbs, I would at least suspend Busch for one weekend of Sprint Cup racing. (A spokesman for JGR told The Observer Tuesday that the organization was aware of the incident and looking into it).
I’d give Busch more than a slap on the wrist. Surely all the relevant sponsors would agree – the driver nicknamed “Rowdy” needs to be made aware that that sort of rowdiness must be confined to the track.
We all know that speed can both thrill and kill. Here’s a teachable moment, ready for the taking. Time for Gibbs to teach not only Busch a lesson, but also to help young, impressionable drivers understand how wrong what Busch did was.
I hope there won’t be a next time, as Busch assures us there won’t be. But that doesn’t absolve Busch from being punished this time.
It doesn’t sound like NASCAR will do it. Even if Busch loses his driver’s license, he is eligible to compete in NASCAR races. So Gibbs must.
For if Busch had hit anybody or anything at 128 mph on a public road, we at The Charlotte Observer wouldn’t be debating the punishment for a speeding ticket right now.
We’d be working on some obituaries.