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NASCAR Suspends Josh Williams for Audacious Parking Stunt
The Xfinity Series driver and his groovy locks didn't take too kindly to being told to exit the Atlanta Motor Speedway and park his damaged Chevrolet Camaro in the garage.
While keeping one’s cool is far easier said than done, blatant workplace insubordination never ends well for anyone, and as NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Josh Williams learned from the league's sanctioning board, even if you do become a viral sensation in the aftermath, the penalty can be steep.
What did Josh Williams do?
Williams, who pilots the No. 92 Chevrolet Camaro for DGM Racing, was competing in Saturday's RAPTOR King of the Tough 250 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. At Lap 27, he was involved in a wreck, and, after the restart, a piece of debris fell from his vehicle, according to Motorsport.com. At that point, race officials ordered Williams to disembark from the track and head to the garage, but he had another idea. Instead of complying with the request, Williams cruised over and defiantly parked on the checkered start-finish line to cement his protest. Clearly perturbed, he climbed out, removed his helmet and walked over to his pit crew as he waved to the crowd.
Prior to exiting his car, he fumed to his crew over the radio about NASCAR demanding he park after debris began falling from his vehicle, saying, "This is some bull you-know-what – I’ve never heard of this in my life." Williams’ emphatic declaration came after learning the rule is in place to prevent cars that have been compromised in wrecks of any kind from littering debris around the track – an obvious safety concern for league and event officials. In Williams’ case, the debris in question was “bear bond” – essentially, strong adhesive tape – that his team had put on his car. It failed to remain adhered to his vehicle due to the cold temperatures at the race, and it subsequently fell off and onto the track.
How did NASCAR punish Josh Williams?
Much to Williams’ chagrin, NASCAR appreciated his anger-driven stunt about as much as he liked the initial order, and the league slapped him with a one-race suspension for his disobedience. The punishment rules him ineligible for the NASCAR Xfinity Series 250 at the Circuit of Americas in Austin, Texas Saturday. In his place, Williams’ team at DGM Racing announced that Alex Labbé would pilot the No. 92 Chevrolet Camaro. Though Williams accepted NASCAR’s one-race punishment, he remained defiant in in a public statement shared on Twitter.
"Thank you to all of my fans for sticking by my side and showing love,” Williams wrote. “I stand behind what I did, and [I] don't regret any action I made. I stand behind NASCAR for these decisions and will continue and always continue to support them. I am not going anywhere any time soon!"
Williams, whose righteous locks make him the perfect doppelganger for Danny McBride’s goatee-rocking, mullet-loving Kenny Powers, is leaning into the rebellious incident. On his website, Williams is hawking a “limited edition” T-shirt that features a signature blue paint scheme with an animated version Williams – mane et al – chucking up deuces. Completing the design is a sketch of his hands forming a heart that rests just below “PARK IT” in loud, yellow font.
How are people responding to Josh Williams’ incident?
Williams’ escapades in Atlanta caught the eye of NASCAR Cup Series star Denny Hamlin. Knowing a thing or two himself about breaking league rules and incurring stiff punishments, Hamlin, who’s both a driver and team co-owner, vowed via Twitter that he would pay any fine that NASCAR doled out to Williams. Hamlin even tried to get Williams on his Actions Detrimental podcast Monday, but the embattled wheelman was already booked on another Dirty Mo Media show Door, Bumper, Clear where he dished about his now infamous incident in Atlanta.
In a day and age where social media rules the roost, Williams’ antics skyrocketed him into the celebrity stratosphere on Instagram where the clip of him exiting his car was viewed more than half a million times. Furthermore, Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal has reported that Williams’ Twitter following has doubled in the wake of the incident.
What is Josh Williams doing with the shirts’ proceeds?
Think what you may about the shirt’s aesthetic, Williams is turning his bad boy ways on the track into good off the pavement, pledging to donate all proceeds from the sale of the shirts to several hospitals he supports – a philanthropic cause he feels deeply for and shows it. Since its origin in 2015, Williams has visited more than 140 hospitals through his Josh Williams Hospital Tour.
Even for a guy with questionable haircare choices, that’s not a bad way to give back.
The 29-year-old racer and part-time social media supernova will return to the Xfinity Series at Richmond Raceway on April 1.