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Ricky Stenhouse Could Face Ban After Throwing Hands With Kyle Busch

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. — The All-Star Race at North Wilkesboro Speedway had been uneventful, a typical race evening until Ricky Stenhouse Jr. threw a punch at Kyle Busch. This sudden burst of drama electrified the crowd and set the stage for heightened anticipation leading into the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.

The Incident: Retaliation and Right Hooks

The tension started on the second lap when Busch wrecked Stenhouse in what appeared to be a retaliatory move. Stenhouse had been aggressive towards Busch earlier in the race, and this crash seemed like payback. After the collision, Stenhouse’s damaged Chevrolet limped to Busch’s pit stall. With no way out, Stenhouse stewed for hours, waiting for Busch’s arrival.

When Busch finally arrived at his hauler, Stenhouse confronted him. A brief exchange of words escalated quickly as Stenhouse landed a right hook on Busch. The ensuing melee involved both drivers’ crews and even Stenhouse’s father. Though the brawl was swiftly broken up, it left a lasting impression and serious repercussions for both drivers.

Image credit NASCAR on FOX via Xcom

Stenhouse’s Immediate Reaction

Stenhouse’s anger was palpable from the moment he parked in Busch’s pit stall. He climbed the pit stand ladder, had heated words with Busch’s crew, and then walked away, leaving his car to be towed from pit road. Stenhouse later explained, “I parked it there because I figured Kyle would do something similar.”

During an interview with Fox Sports, Stenhouse foreshadowed the confrontation. “I’ll see Kyle after the race,” he said, and he meant it. Dressed in casual attire, Stenhouse waited in the infield for Busch. As soon as Busch approached, Stenhouse confronted him face-to-face and unleashed a punch. Security quickly intervened, but not before the scuffle drew attention.

Fallout from the Brawl

Screenshot credit NASCAR on FOX via Xcom

The altercation has potential disciplinary consequences for Stenhouse, the 2023 Daytona 500 champion. NASCAR officials are considering a suspension for him, other crew members, and possibly his father. Busch, too, might face penalties if NASCAR concludes he deliberately caused the wreck that sparked the incident.

Stenhouse’s fury did not wane after the fight. He continued to berate Busch, accusing him of bad-mouthing since an incident at Daytona and implying that Busch’s frustration stemmed from declining performance. Busch, a two-time Cup Series champion, currently ranks 13th in points without a win this season, which may have fueled his aggressive behavior.

Kyle Busch’s Perspective

Busch’s frustration was evident as well. “First lap of the race, we don’t even have water temp in the car yet, and we’re wrecking each other,” Busch complained. “I am tired of getting run over by everybody. But that’s what everybody does: everybody runs over everybody to pass everybody.”

Busch’s retort to Stenhouse’s accusations was sharp. “Go back and watch the replay. I didn’t touch you. Not once,” he said, defending his actions on the track. Busch’s irritation highlights a broader issue within NASCAR: the aggressive driving culture that often leads to on-track incidents and off-track confrontations.

Impact on NASCAR and Future Races

The brawl between Stenhouse and Busch casts a shadow over the All-Star Race and raises questions about sportsmanship and discipline in NASCAR. The sport has always had its share of rivalries and heated moments, but physical altercations bring a different level of scrutiny. NASCAR officials must now decide how to handle the situation to maintain the sport’s integrity and safety.

The incident also adds a layer of intrigue to the upcoming Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Fans will be watching closely to see if Stenhouse follows through on his vow to “wreck” Busch. This brewing rivalry could overshadow the race itself, drawing attention and possibly affecting the drivers’ performances.

The All-Star Race: A Recap

Aside from the drama between Stenhouse and Busch, the All-Star Race itself lacked excitement. Kyle Larson, who arrived by helicopter from Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where he had qualified for his Indy 500 debut, didn’t provide much competition. Pole sitter Joey Logano dominated the race, leading all but one of the 200 laps to secure the $1 million prize.

The race highlighted ongoing struggles in NASCAR to find the right setup for short tracks. Despite experimenting with multiple tire variations, passing remained difficult. Runner-up Denny Hamlin noted, “You couldn’t pass. I would lose a little bit of air there, and I would try to give my car a break and then run at [Logano] again.”

Hamlin’s remarks underscore a critical issue for NASCAR: the need to improve racing quality on short tracks. While the brawl between Stenhouse and Busch provided an unexpected thrill, the actual race performance left much to be desired.

Lessons for Future Races

The events at North Wilkesboro serve as a reminder of the intense emotions and high stakes in NASCAR. Drivers’ tempers can flare, leading to incidents that go beyond the racetrack. For NASCAR, the challenge lies in balancing the competitive spirit with maintaining order and safety.

The upcoming Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte now carries an extra layer of tension. Fans will be eager to see if the feud between Stenhouse and Busch reignites. NASCAR officials will need to be vigilant, ensuring that any retaliation does not escalate into further violence.


Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s punch at Kyle Busch has turned an otherwise uneventful All-Star Race into a hot topic. As NASCAR fans look forward to the Coca-Cola 600, the potential for further clashes between Stenhouse and Busch adds an element of suspense. NASCAR’s response to this incident will be crucial in setting the tone for driver conduct and maintaining the sport’s integrity. As always, the world of NASCAR remains unpredictable, where rivalries and raw emotions can transform any race into a spectacle.