NASCAR Cup Series
NASCAR fines Ricky Stenhouse Jr., suspends his father, after brawl with Kyle Busch
NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR fines Ricky Stenhouse Jr., suspends his father, after brawl with Kyle Busch

Updated May. 22, 2024 4:57 p.m. ET

NASCAR fined driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and suspended his father and two crew members for a brawl Sunday night following the All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Stenhouse, whose car was damaged beyond repair when Kyle Busch retaliated against him two laps into the 200-lap event, punched Busch following the race, setting off the melee.

"He hit the fence and kind of came off the wall and ran into me, and when I was talking to him, he kept saying that I wrecked him," Stenhouse said after the fight.

"[It was] just definitely built-up frustration with how he runs his mouth all the time about myself. But I know he's frustrated because he doesn't run near as good as he used to, and I understand that."


NASCAR typically does not fine drivers for a punch in the heat of the moment. But the fact that Stenhouse had 80-90 minutes between the time his car was knocked out of the race and when he saw Busch, it fined him $75,000. That is consistent with a $25,000 fine given to truck series driver Matt Crafton for punching Nick Sanchez in the garage after a truck race last year, as Cup purse money is much larger than that for the trucks.

While NASCAR gives drivers leeway, it discourages crew members and others from getting involved.

After reviewing video, NASCAR determined that Stenhouse's father (suspended indefinitely), his mechanic Clint Myrick (suspended eight races) and his engine tuner Keith Matthews (suspended four races) all went beyond any peace-making roles in the brawl.

Stenhouse’s dad grabbed Busch and as a family member of a driver, was suspended indefinitely. Myrick was suspended eight races for putting his hands on Busch and a NASCAR security official. Matthews was suspended four races for putting his hands on Busch.

"When crew members get involved and family members get involved, we’re going to react," NASCAR Senior Vice President Elton Sawyer said. "That’s exactly what we did." 

Busch was not penalized and none of his Richard Childress Racing team members were penalized.

The fines and suspensions can be appealed. NASCAR, at its discretion, can defer suspensions pending appeal. There was no immediate word whether any of the crew members would appeal their suspensions.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. vs. Kyle Busch at North Wilkesboro

In a shouting match after the fight, Stenhouse threatened to wreck Busch this weekend at Charlotte. NASCAR is expected to meet with Stenhouse to warn that any retaliation on the track would likely result in more serious penalties to the JTG Daugherty Racing driver.

Busch car owner Richard Childress — who once decked Busch himself in 2011 and was fined $150,000 — told FOX's Greensboro affiliate Tuesday that "When I see him, I'm going to tell him if he does, ... he'll carry a rough ass-beating."

Before the fight, Busch said he was tired of getting run over by other drivers.

"First lap of the race, we don't even have water temp in the car yet, and we're wrecking each other off of [Turn] 2," Busch said. "I am tired of getting run over by everybody. But that's what everybody does — everybody runs over everybody to pass everybody."

Busch walked to his transporter after the race, and Stenhouse was waiting. Stenhouse told him that he didn't touch Busch until Busch hit the wall himself. Busch told him he didn't think that was the way it happened, and Stenhouse replied, "Go back and watch it," before socking Busch in the face.

Kevin Harvick breaks down fight between Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Typically, Stenhouse wouldn't have even been at the track for the end of the race, but the old North Wilkesboro track, which had its first Cup event in 29 years when the all-star race was held there in 2023, does not have a tunnel nor a pedestrian bridge to exit the infield. The only way across is to walk across the track, so anyone knocked out of the race can't leave until afterward.

Stenhouse had time to stew and watch the entire race.

"Being stuck in here definitely doesn't help the frustration," Stenhouse said. "If there was a tunnel, I'd have probably been home watching the end of that, but here we are."

Sawyer said that NASCAR wants drivers to be able to talk things out.

"When you’re going to wait 198 laps and you make those decisions that were made, we’re going to react to that — there could have been different decisions made," Sawyer said.

"We want the two drivers to have their time to express their differences but once it escalates to a physical altercation there, we’re going to react. … Better decisions could have been made throughout the period of time between the incident that happened on the race track and the incident that happened in the garage postrace."

Bob Pockrass covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He has spent decades covering motorsports, including over 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @bobpockrass.


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