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The Most Memorable Fights in NASCAR Involving Kyle Busch

When it comes to the Cup Series, if you mess with the bull, you get the horns.

By Andrew Woodin

A right of passage, a tradition, heck, sometimes it’s even an art form, but no matter how you slice it, fighting in NASCAR is about as ingrained in the sport’s high-octane DNA as the tires themselves. The 1979 Daytona 500 cemented that.

While Richard Petty gave the racing world the champ it desired in the first-ever NASCAR race to be broadcast in its full entirety, a bone-crunching, helmet-swinging, post-race brawl between Donnie Allison and Cale Yarborough put NASCAR and its innate proclivity for sparking fisticuffs in the spotlight for the 15 million fans who tuned into the televised event. With its fiery star drivers providing an additional boost of dramatic, one-on-one machismo not found in traditional team sports like the NFL and the NBA, racing fans’ appreciation for NASCAR grew as did their thirst for the turbulent, scrappy bouts they became conditioned to seeing in races. Now, after 45 years since that epic brouhaha, two-time Cup Series champion Kyle Busch is reminding racing fans that when it comes to NASCAR, history proves that once a fighter, always a fighter.

Kyle Busch vs. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – 2024 North Wilkesboro

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In Busch’s latest episode of conflict, the Richard Childress Racing wheelman drew the ire of Ricky Stenhouse at the NASCAR All-Star race at the North Wilkesboro Speedway in North Carolina. After back-and-forth clanging at the start of the non-points race, Busch seemed to intentionally wreck Stenhouse’s No. 47 Chevrolet Camaro on Lap 2, effectively knocking him out of the race. And yet, while the on-track fireworks raised eyebrows from all who watched, a powder keg was being primed to explode. Having your shot erased at a mega purse of $1 million will do that.

Following the race, Stenhouse Jr., some of his crew and even his father Richard Stenhouse Sr. confronted Busch in a heated discussion, and when any chance of salvaging a contact-free altercation quickly eroded, the situation devolved into pure bedlam after Stenhouse Jr. punched Busch, knocking him to the ground. Reminiscent of WWE wrestling cage matches, the ensuing scuffle directly embroiled not only a myriad of crew members, but also Stenhouse Sr. who got mixed up in the melee. As many hoped cooler heads would prevail, racing fans and former drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. were stunned to learn that Stenhouse Jr. was hit with a $75,000 fine – the largest monetary penalty ever issued for fighting. Busch, on the other hand, was interestingly not slapped with any fine. 

So, in honor of "Rowdy" (Busch's nickname of choice) proverbially taking one for the team as the storied tradition of fighting in NASCAR motors on, here’s a look at a few of Busch’s most memorable scraps of his career. 

Kyle Busch vs. Kevin Harvick – 2011 Darlington

While some late-race theatrics led to Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick clanging doors during the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington, neither one of the tenacious wheelmen seemed to want to let sleeping dogs lie once the multi-car pile-up they caused cleared.

With Busch behind him still in his car, “Happy” Harvick removed his steering wheel and climbed out of his car’s window as he prepared to scrap with Busch, but before Harvick could throw one of his signature right crosses, Busch sped off. Though it wasn’t a true fight, both Busch and Harvick were extremely lucky no one was seriously hurt because Busch used his car’s nose to ram Harvick’s car out of the way. Harvick recently recounted the harrowing ordeal on the latest edition of "Kevin Harvick's Happy Hour," according to FOX Sports.

"I recall my shoulder still hurting because as I went in to punch him [Busch] in the head, he decided to take off in his car,” revealed Harvick. “Right here, he knew he was going to get punched in the head. He decided that, ‘I'm not going to get punched in the head.'"  

Kyle Busch at a press conference after a race

Kyle Busch vs. Joey Logano – 2017 Las Vegas

Like a fine wine, this epic throwdown between Cup Series champs Kyle Busch and Joey Logano has only become better with age. The tussle occurred after Logano spun Busch, triggering Busch to try to teach a young gun a lesson or two about "respect." 

Busch first grappled with Logano’s crew chief before going after Logano himself, punching him square in the jaw. The tides quickly turned, and Busch found himself at the bottom of a dog pile as bodies flew everywhere. When the dust settled, and Busch came up for air, he appeared to have endured the worst of the landed blows as he walked away from the track, dripping blood from a fresh forehead gash. Sometimes, payback blows back.

Kyle Busch vs. Fan – 2018 Bristol 

Beefing with fellow Cup Series drivers is one thing, but ratcheting up tense encounters with passionate fans to a level where hands are thrown is completely out of bounds – something Kyle Busch unfortunately experienced first hand at Bristol in 2018. 

As his brother Kurt Busch was celebrating his win of the fabled night race, a mystery fan who was irate with "Rowdy" for spinning Martin Truex Jr. into the wall began heckling the then M&M’s driver, according to Speed Society. While Busch has plenty of experience making fans’ blood boil – just look at the fallout from him taking out Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2008 in Richmond – never before has it escalated to a point of physical altercation as it did when the enraged fan then confronted Busch. The unknown assailant managed to get in a hard shove before race authorities stepped in and broke up the conflict. 

In terms of Busch's latest altercation with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., JTG Daugherty Racing’s driver of the No. 47 Chevy may have incurred the largest penalty ever for fighting, but if the response from Busch’s boss Richard Childress is any indicator of where their long-simmering feud stands, the drama is far from over.

“I would’ve jumped right in the middle of it,” stated Childress Tuesday at the Helping A Hero Patriot Award Dinner.  “I don’t fight as fair as I used to. I’m a little older. Ricky Stenhouse said that he was going to wreck the eight car [Busch] at Charlotte.” 

“Well, when I see him, I’m gonna tell him if he does, ‘I’m older, but I’ve just changed my style of fighting.’"