Relative to NASCARs early history, how fast was Kyle Busch going when he was ticketed for speeding 128 mph on a North Carolina highway in May?
It took NASCARs pioneers years to qualify for a starting lineup in that speed range. And even longer, of course, to average that pace in a race.
As most stock car racing fans and the general citizenry of the Carolinas are aware, star driver Busch was clocked running 83 miles an hour over the speed limit in a 45 mph zone by an Iredell County deputy sheriff.
At the time the current Cup Series point standings leader was driving a LFA Lexus high-performance sports car that had been loaned to him by the manufacturer though a Charlotte dealership. His wife Samantha was along that day in May on Perth Road, which crosses Lake Normans Stumpy Creek Arm near Mooresville. An elementary school, a day-care center and several residential areas are on that road.
The officer ticketed Busch, who was then released at the deputys discretion.
Hmm, thats still hard to believe, especially among those of us who connect Buschs joy ride to the perspective of NASCAR history.
It took five years and a span of 141 races for a NASCAR driver to run time trials in the range Busch was traveling in that Lexus sports car. Lee Petty did it on Feb. 21, 1954. , The late patriarch of the racing family was clocked at 123.410 mph in a Chrysler while qualifying for the storied race on the old Daytona Beach and Road Course.
It wasnt until Feb. 20,1959, a decade after NASCAR staged its inaugural event, that someone exceeded Buschs highway speed in a race.
Bob Welborn averaged 143.198 mph in a Chevrolet during a 100-mile qualifier leading up to the inaugural Daytona 500.
The qualifying races counted as official events in those days.
The late Welborns feat came in the sanctioning bodys 383rd race.
No wonder fans from the sports early days were aghast and angered at Buschs recklessness and some remain so over what seems to them his relatively light punishment, rendered in Iredell County District Court on Aug. 23.
Busch was fined $1,000, placed on probation for a year and lost his drivers license for 45 days.
Some guys I know say theyve formed an unofficial "Citizens' Watch" committee, and the next time they learn of a speeder being treated more harshly than Busch, theyre going to howl.