If you clicked on this link or started reading this in the paper, you have now for sure seen the video of the lady that got Kyle Busched by Kyle Busch at Bristol this past weekend.
On the off chance that you missed it, after some not-so-minor trouble early in Sunday’s running of the Food City 500, Busch was bringing his wounded Toyota into the garage and as he came off pit road he clipped this lady, whose name is Erin Vandyke with the right front bumper.
I mean, is that not the most Kyle Busch thing that has ever happened?
As an aside, I am going to say Busch was the victim of The Cagle Curse. I write good things about him in the column last week and his race goes south. Jimmie Johnson has not had much luck since I heaped praise on him a few weeks ago. Go figure.
Anyway, Busch hits this lady, who obviously was not paying attention to what was going on at the track and Kyle was probably going a bit too fast considering how tight the confines are at the one-half-mile Bristol Motor Speedway and he went under a rope that should have been a sign that that was a no-go entrance to the pits.
Every day I go to work in an extremely safety conscious industrial environment where we take this stuff serious as all H-E-double-toothpicks (it is a nuclear power plant) and one of the things that we stress is situational awareness. We even have posters, but I guess you aren’t being aware of your surroundings if you stop to look at a poster. The irony.
Vandyke ended up going to the infield care center to get checked out and was not very happy with Busch.
“After it happened, I didn’t go get checked initially …” Vandyke told FOXSports.com. “But after I started bending around, it starting hurting. So I went to the infield medical center and got checked out. And they told me if it started hurting more to go on and get checked completely, because they didn’t have X-rays there.”
Post incident she tweeted: Thanks @KyleBusch for running over me today, could have at least checked to make sure I was okay.
Thankfully she wasn’t seriously hurt. I am honestly surprised this doesn’t happen more at the race track, especially at Bristol and Martinsville, where space is limited, the people of plentiful and cars are darting on and off the track.
Back to that people being plentiful part. Regardless of the size of the track, the garage of a race track is a dangerous place and it is full of people who, honestly have no business there. It is a work environment. Crew members, NASCAR officials and members of the media have jobs to do in the pits and the garage. But it is littered with people who are there because they know a guy who knows a guy who managed to secure them a hot pass. Sure there are people associated with a team, track or series sponsor who have, or their companies have, paid thousands of dollars for high-level access. Teams should make accommodations to keep them out of the way. The bottom line is there are too many people in the pits
who don’t need to be there and Vandyke getting hit by a car is the result. I am still not sure why she was in the pits in the first place for the race.
NASCAR preaches their sport is different because of the access that fans have to the action. That’s great. Let people be in the pits and the garage before and after the race. That was the point of the hot and cold passes implemented by NASCAR about 15 years ago. Come in, have fun, take the selfie in front of Dale Jr.’s car and bounce 30 minutes before the command to go find your seat in the grandstands or suite if you are one of those balling high rollers.
I am not immune to getting hurt in the pits. In 2002, I caught a lug nut to the forehead when Mark Martin hastily left his pits and caught the offending would-be projectile with his right rear tire which connected with my noggin at a high rate of speed (I still have the lug nut). Two things: I was working. For the Daily Journal, actually and it could have been avoided had I been paying attention.
I am not absolving Busch of any blame here. He has some culpability. But the ultimate responsibility for the almost-disaster lies with NASCAR. They have to do a better job of policing who is in the pits during races, especially at Martinsville and Bristol or next time the outcome will be much worse.
Andy Cagle writes a weekly column during the NASCAR season. He can be reached by email at email@example.com.