Gene Haas: Timing of commissioner’s findings in Kurt Busch protective order was ‘outrageous’


Team owner Gene Haas was happy to have Kurt Busch behind the wheel of the No. 41 Chevrolet again Sunday but remains troubled by some elements of Busch’s suspension.

“I was a little bit stunned I think by the fact that Kurt was pulled out several days before Daytona, which just seemed so incredulous to me,” Haas said after Busch finished fifth at Phoenix International Raceway in his first Sprint Cup start of the 2015 season.  “Two days before the Daytona 500, to do that to a driver, just didn’t seem right.”

Busch was suspended indefinitely by NASCAR on Feb. 20 when a Kent County (Del.) Family Court commissioner explained his reasons for issuing a protective order against Busch, who was accused of domestic abuse by an ex-girlfriend.

Haas told before Sunday’s 500 that he found the timing of the release of the findings “outrageous.”

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver had two appeals denied the day before the Daytona 500 and was replaced in the season opener by Regan Smith, who drove the No. 41 for three races.

NASCAR lifted Busch’s suspension March 11 after the Delaware County Department of Justice declined to pursue criminal charges against Busch, who had entered a program of treatment.

Haas said the Busch’s return was “a light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak, because now we know what to expect.  In previous months it was just nothing but question marks.  ‘What are you going to do?  How is this going to unfold? ‘

“The only answer, you could say, ‘We have no idea, we can’t control any of this.’ We were as much in suspense as anybody.”

Haas was complimentary of how Busch’s case was handled by the sanctioning body.

“We appreciate what NASCAR did,” he said. “I think they did the right thing. … The way things unfolded, it worked out.  We didn’t really lose too much time.  Kurt now is back in the car.  I think he’s razor focused. He appreciates that driving at this level is a privilege.  It certainly isn’t anything he has a right to or any of us have a right to.  It can go away.  It can go away just as fast as a car can go away in a race.  He has a great appreciation for that.

“I have to admit in the last week or so, it seems like things have reversed.  I think Kurt has a much more focused attitude.  Now he can get back to business. I think he’s really dedicated himself to winning a championship.  So hopefully in the long run, when we look back on this we’ll look at it as a bump in the road on the way to winning another championship.”

In a prerace interview with Fox, Busch said he hadn’t handled many past situations well “but going to a step to actually hurt a woman or to hurt somebody, that’s not in my realm. That’s way beyond my reach.”


Portland Xfinity race results, driver points

Portland Xfinity results
Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cole Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when the top three cars made contact and went on to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Portland International Raceway. Custer is the 10th different winner in 13 races this season.

MORE: Portland Xfinity race results

MORE: Driver points after Portland Xfinity race

JR Motorsports took the next three spots: Justin Allgaier placed second, Sam Mayer was third and Josh Berry was fourth. Austin Hill completed the top five.

John Hunter Nemechek remains the points leader after 13 races. He has a 14-point lead on Hill. Nemechek leads Allgaier by 44 points.

Cole Custer wins Xfinity race at Portland in overtime


Cole Custer held off Justin Allgaier at the finish to win Saturday’s Xfinity Series race in overtime at Portland International Raceway. It is Custer’s first victory of the season.

JR Motorsports placed second, third and fourth with Allgaier, Sam Mayer and Josh Berry. Austin Hill finished fifth.

MORE: Race results, driver points

Custer went from fourth to first on the overtime restart when Parker Kligerman, who restarted third, attempted to pass Allgaier, who was leading. Sheldon Creed was on the outside of Allgaier. All three cars made contact entering Turn 1, allowing Custer to slip by. Creed finished seventh. Kligerman placed 14th.

Custer won the second stage when John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Creed’s car while racing for the lead on the final lap of the stage. The contact spun Creed and Custer inched by Nemechek at the line.

Early in the final stage, Creed gained revenge with contact that spun Nemechek, who went on to finish 10th. A few laps later, Nemechek and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Sammy Smith had issues. Smith spun Nemechek. After getting back around, Nemechek quickly caught Smith and turned into Smith’s car, damaging it.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Cole Custer

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Despite the contact on the overtime restart, runner-up Justin Allgaier managed to score his fourth consecutive top-three finish. … Sam Mayer’s third-place finish is his best on a road course. … Austin Hill’s fifth-place finish gives him four consecutive top-five results.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Daniel Hemric finished 33rd after a fire in his car. … Riley Herbst placed 32nd after an engine issue. After opening the season with six top 10s in a row, Herbst has gone seven races in a row without a top 10.

NEXT: The series competes June 10 at Sonoma Raceway (8 p.m. ET on FS1).

Truck race results at WWT Raceway: Grant Enfinger wins


Grant Enfinger took the lead when the leaders wrecked in the final laps and held off the field in overtime to win Saturday’s Craftsman Truck Series race at World Wide Technology Raceway.

It is Enfinger’s second win in the last five races. He also collected a $50,000 bonus for winning the Triple Truck Challenge.

MORE: Truck race results

MORE: Driver points after WWT Raceway

Christian Eckes finished second and was followed by Stewart Friesen, Carson Hocevar and Chase Purdy.

Ty Majeski and Zane Smith wrecked while racing for the lead with six laps to go. Majeski, running on the inside of Smith, slid up the track and clipped Smith’s truck. Both hit the wall. That put Enfinger in the lead.

Smith finished 20th. Majeski placed 30th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Grant Enfinger’s victory is his fourth top 10 in the last five races. … Carson Hocevar’s fourth-place finish is his fourth consecutive top-five result. … Stewart Friesen’s third-place finish moved him into a playoff spot with four races left in the regular season. … Matt DiBenedetto‘s sixth-place finish is his third consecutive top 10. … Jesse Love finished ninth in his series debut.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski had a chance to take the points lead with series leader Corey Heim out because of illness, but Majeski’s 30th-place finish after running at the front most of the day, leaves him behind Heim. … Hailie Deegan finished 32nd after contact sent her truck into the wall hard. … After finishing a career-high third last week at Charlotte, Dean Thompson placed 34th Saturday due to an engine issue.

NEXT: The series races June 23 at Nashville Superspeedway (8 p.m. ET on FS1)

Xfinity starting lineup at Portland: Sheldon Creed wins pole


Sheldon Creed scored his first career Xfinity Series pole by taking the top spot for Saturday’s race at Portland International Raceway.

Creed, making his 50th career series start, earned the pole with a lap of 95.694 mph on the 1.97-mile road course.

MORE: Portland Xfinity starting lineup

Cole Custer will start second with a lap of 95.398 mph. He is followed by Josh Berry (94.242 mph), John Hunter Nemechek (95.127) and Charlotte winner Justin Allgaier (94.897). Road racing specialist Jordan Taylor, driving for Kaulig Racing, qualified sixth at 94.772 mph.

The green flag is scheduled to wave 4:46 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1.