NASCAR points leader Kyle Busch lost his driver’s license for 45 days on Tuesday for driving 128 mph on a road close to a day-care center and church in a nearly $400,000 car. His lawyer said his client was not treated "like any other citizen."
Busch, who doesn’t need a license to compete in NASCAR, also was fined $1,000, sentenced to 30 hours of community service and put on one year of unsupervised probation. He pleaded guilty to speeding and no contest to reckless and careless driving in North Carolina District Court in Iredell County.
Busch addressed the court before his sentencing by District Court Judge H. Thomas Church, apologizing again for driving 128 mph in a 45 mph zone in a bright yellow 2012 Lexus on May 24.
"I think you’ll be different in the future," Church said.
"I sure will, your honor," Busch replied.
Busch and his wife, Samantha, were in the car when he was pulled over on a two-lane road in an area near a subdivision, a day-care center and a church. The hand-built LFA sports car was on loan to Busch from Lexus for a 24-hour test drive.
Busch attorney Cliff Homesley argued that his client wasn’t being treated the same as other people in similar circumstances, citing a July case of a 21-year-old convicted felon who was caught doing 128 mph and received a $300 fine and no loss of license.
"In 25 years of practicing law I’ve never seen someone not being offered better than this," Homesley argued before the court. "All I am asking is to treat Kyle Busch like any other citizen that appears before the court."
Homesley, calling Busch one of the best drivers in the world, said: "He had full control of that vehicle at all times.
"That automobile in his hands was like a scalpel in the hands of a surgeon. Not a knife in the hands of a 5-year-old."
Busch is coming off his Sprint Cup series-best fourth victory at Michigan on Sunday, and he holds a 10-point lead over five-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson in the standings. His next scheduled race is Wednesday’s Trucks Series event at Bristol, where he’s won the last five races spanning NASCAR’s top three national series.
"This is closure. That certainly was what we were looking for in this case," Busch said outside the court. "We’ve had a lot of people stand behind me and we’ve gone through this is as diligent as we could, as respectful as we could, and that’s why I am here today in person to do it myself and to accept responsibility for my actions.
"Today’s done. We move on to tomorrow and try to go win a truck race at Bristol."
Busch spoke only briefly outside court, where a hot dog vendor was set up roughly 100 feet away offering the "128 mph special." Busch headed in opposite direction of the stand as he left with his attorney.
In court, Homesley admitted Busch passed three different patrol cars following one another as the deputies headed to lunch. The first clocked him at 128 mph, the second clocked him at 79 and the third at 59 – numbers that proved Busch was in control of the car and able to slow it down quickly.
Busch did tell the deputy who pulled him over the Lexus was "just a toy," a remark he backed away from while apologizing for the incident in in a media session two days later.
"I’m certainly sorry that it happened," he said. "It wasn’t a toy, it’s a high-performance vehicle. It should be driven with caution. Obviously, I didn’t have caution and I had a lack of judgment.
"There’s probably reason why on the TV commercials that they always show at the bottom, ‘Professional driver, closed course.’ Mine was not that. Again, I apologize sincerely. All I can do is make sure it doesn’t happen again."
Busch will do his community service with the teen safe-driving program B.R.A.K.E.S., which was developed by drag racer Doug Herbert.
Herbert’s two sons were killed in a 2008 accident attributed to speeding, and the drag racer established the "Be Responsible And Keep Everyone Safe" program to teach teenagers safety behind the wheel.
Busch agreed to sponsor 300 students in the program, as well as participate in some of the sessions. He’ll have to do at least 30 hours as part of his sentence.