Friday 5: NASCAR’s moves increasing chance of conflict on, off track for drivers

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NASCAR’s recent changes to the schedule, rules that tighten the competition, and a new car designed to close the gap between teams have put drivers in an ever-tightening vise that could lead to more contact on the track and conflict off it.

Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum is the latest example of NASCAR’s push in this direction. The exhibition race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum marks the first time Cup cars will race on a quarter-mile track since 1971. Some drivers believe mayhem will result.

For fans, this could be entertaining. For drivers, it challenges their personal code of what’s acceptable and what’s not while racing in close quarters. It’s an issue drivers have faced more often in recent years. 

“NASCAR has put us all in a position to make challenging decisions on what is right,” former champion Joey Logano said. “I’ll be 100 percent honest with you, a lot of times you don’t know what’s right.”

That leads to disputes. 

Denny Hamlin interrupted Alex Bowman’s victory celebration at Martinsville and expressed his displeasure with how Bowman drove late in last year’s playoff race. 

Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick confronted each other after the Bristol playoff race last season. Their feud carried on to the Charlotte Roval — where Harvick wrecked Elliott. 

Conflicts gain attention. Such is part of the allure of short-track racing. The Clash at the Coliseum has been compared to Bowman Gray Stadium, a quarter-mile track inside a football stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Bowman Gray Stadium has hosted races since 1949.

Of course, the track is better known as the “Madhouse” for its racing and disagreements. 

“We’re racing, wrestling and religion all kind of combined together,” Gray Garrison, promoter at Bowman Gray Stadium, told NBC Sports. “We race. They have some discussions like they do in wrestling. We have such a loyal fan base, that they all kind of sit in the same seats like they do in church every Sunday.”

It’s a formula that works for that track, which often fills many of its 17,000 seats, if not all of them, on Saturday nights throughout the summer. 

NASCAR seeks to give fans more of that Saturday night feel.

Since 2019, NASCAR has added three road course races, put dirt on Bristol for its spring race, moved the Clash from Daytona to the LA Coliseum and taken five races from tracks 1.5 miles or longer — where cars can get spread out. The motive is to put cars on tracks where they are more likely to run closer together. That creates more chances for contact, leading to more drama and entertainment. 

More changes are coming.

It seems only a matter of time before Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, a 0.596-mile track, is added to the Cup schedule, giving the series another short track. If the Clash proves successful, it could continue at the Coliseum or move to different venues.

“The one gauge that we have as a sport, and it never fails, is our fans,” Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway, told NBC Sports. “The fans have spoken loud and clear the last few years that they want short tracks and they want road courses. … “You really don’t know just want to expect (at those tracks). It may not be white-knuckle exciting all the time, but you’re anticipating something, and I think that’s what you can get at places like that.”

2. Moving closer to the edge?

No one knows what the racing will be like this weekend at the Coliseum, although many drivers predict plenty of beating and banging. 

“You’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do,” Logano said. “It is something that I think all of us drivers will think about a lot, and the Clash is no different.

“You look at the way they’ve designed this racetrack, not just the fact that it’s small, but the way they put the curbing on the bottom. It just seems like it opens the door for more contact and sliding it down in there, so we will have to wait and see.”

But is it worth it to upset fellow competitors to win an exhibition race with the whole season ahead? It depends on the driver. For some, the answer could be yes.

“We want to put our best foot forward and try to win on Sunday because that sets the tone for the rest of the year, so that is important to us,” William Byron said. “But it is a little different event because it is a non-points race.”

Martin Truex Jr. is not known as a rough racer. His duel with Logano in the 2018 playoff race at Martinsville is an example of how Truex seeks not to make contact while racing for the lead. Of course, Truex lost that race on a bump-and-run from Logano. Such a move has become an accepted way of winning. It’s simply called short-track racing.

Even so, Truex admits every decision a driver makes has its risks, especially Sunday.

You definitely don’t want to start off the year in an exhibition race with a bunch of people mad at you,” he said.

These are the types of things drivers have to ponder with the potential for more contact throughout the season. With six short tracks (less than 1 mile) and six road courses on the schedule, a third of the 36-race season features those types of venues. That’s where beating and banging is most likely. 

“For me, the (altercations) are something that I don’t really like being involved in at this point anymore,” Kevin Harvick told NBC Sports. “I’d rather just go out and race and do my job with my team and try to get the most out of it, but sometimes that just happens when you’re on the racetrack. … You just kind of take it as it comes and deal with it as it goes.”

The feud between Harvick and Elliott spiced last year’s playoffs. Elliott was upset at Harvick for contact that led to a cut tire and cost Elliott a chance to win at Bristol. Harvick was upset with Elliott for impeding him in the final laps there, allowing Elliott’s teammate, Kyle Larson to pass for the win. 

The issue lingered for a few weeks before the series raced at the Roval. Harvick knocked Elliott into the wall. Elliott overcame it to advance in the playoffs and made it to the championship race. Harvick was eliminated from title contention at the Roval.

Afterward, Elliott provided arguably the quote of the season, saying: “As far as Kevin goes, just want to wish them a merry offseason and a happy Christmas.”

3. The new car

While much has been made about the larger diameter wheels, the new steering package, the bigger brakes and even the rearview camera for drivers with the Next Gen car, a key element of this vehicle is its composite body. 

“I think the composite body brings opportunity to maybe take a little bit more risk,” Cup rookie Harrison Burton told NBC Sports. 

Previously, Cup cars had sheet metal bodies and drivers complained that it didn’t take much contact from another car or the wall to damage a fender and cut a tire.

The Xfinity Series began using composite bodies for all its races in 2018. It allowed drivers to run closer together and not worry as much about modest contact with another vehicle or the wall. 

Cup drivers hope the same will occur with this car, so they aren’t penalized by a cut tire as often in tight racing.

NASCAR Production Days
Kyle Busch notes that drivers still have much to learn about the Next Gen car. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“I feel this body, hopefully, will have a chance to compress and then come back … so that will alleviate some of the tire rubs and that will allow for a little bit of side-by-side contact here and there, some fender banging,” Kyle Busch told NBC Sports. 

That’s just one of many areas in which drivers will be seeking to learn more about the car at the Clash and in coming weekends. With learning come mistakes. 

“When I was kid, everybody looked at me like, ‘All he does is crash too much,’” Busch said. “True. Sometimes you’ve got to overstep that line to figure out where that line is at. 

“With this car, me being an older age, I’ll probably work my way up to the line, and hopefully, not cross over too much. But, obviously, you’ve got to find out how hard to you can push these things and put them in situations in order to fine tune that perfect spot.”

Another key element to the car is that its parts come from vendors instead of being built by teams. With organizations having the same pieces, NASCAR looks to close the gap between teams. That gives smaller teams hope that they can run well at more tracks instead of just Daytona, Talladega and some short tracks.

The effect already is felt in the sport. Corey LaJoie, who finished 29th in points for Spire Motorsports last season, said this week that he looks to Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum as an event he could do well in. 

“I’m not going in with just the hopes of making it,” LaJoie said of the Clash. “I think if we don’t finish in the top seven, I feel like I would be pretty disappointed in myself and our abilities.

“This is only the first event where me running to our maximum ambition gives us a chance that we know we might see some fruit on the backend, because we are going to have a lot better relative speed than we probably had last year or years previous.”

If the competition for each position is more intense, then the chances for more issues on and off track increase. 

4. Tight racing quarters 

Daniel Suarez smiles as he thinks about the three times he ran at Bowman Gray Stadium in what was then the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

“You knew you were going to have contact,” Suarez told NBC Sports. “You knew you were going to have a little fight with someone, at least, and you knew you were going to have some drama.”

Suarez saw nearly all sides of it, finishing last in a 22-car field there in 2012 after crashing and placing second to Ben Rhodes in the 2014 race there. 

Tim Brown, who won his record 11th modified championship last season at Bowman Gray Stadium, has witnessed much of the drama at that track and been in the center of it at times. 

He’s faced the challenges of racing on a tight track lap after lap after lap and often with contact. 

While he’d rather win the pole, lead every lap and easily win the race, he knows that’s not what will draw fans. It’s why Bowman Gray has drivers who qualify for the race then do a blind draw to pick their starting spot. It’s why the track had a choose cone, as many short tracks did, well before NASCAR instituted it. 

Such rules are meant to keep the competition close and the fans interested. The result is that drivers must fight each other harder on the track for position. 

“We’re entertainers,” Brown told NBC Sports. “We entertain. If people don’t come and get entertained, they won’t come back.  … With the road courses and short track races, I think NASCAR is starting to see that that type of racing is way more entertaining than all these cookie-cutter racetracks of the same shape just in different states.”

LaJoie knows the feeling of winning on such a track, taking the checkered flag in the 2012 K&N Pro Series East race at Bowman Gray — a race that saw Bubba Wallace place second, Kyle Larson fifth and Chase Elliott sixth. 

A decade later, LaJoie sees how the sport has evolved and how demanding the racing is for each position. 

“If you don’t want conflict, you chose the wrong career path,” LaJoie told NBC Sports. “It’s inevitable. You’re racing against somebody week in and week out. You’re going to rub fenders and be at odds with somebody. 

“At the smaller racetracks you race at, Martinsville you’re going to run into everybody, Richmond, LA Coliseum, Bristol, you’re going to rub fenders and be pissed off at somebody.”

It’s often when drivers are angriest that the crowd is loudest.

5. What’s next?

If all goes well, the Clash could find a home at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The three-year agreement includes options for 2023 and 2024. NASCAR has 90 days from Sunday’s race to decide if to return to the Coliseum in 2023. 

A successful Clash also could turn the event into one that moves to different locations. 

“We’ll all sit down as a group and talk about what went well,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, about how the sanctioning body will decide its course of action after the Clash.

“What we could possibly tweak. If we want to go ahead there for an additional year, or there’s other areas we may want to explore, domestic or even outside of the U.S., as well.”

NASCAR Production Days
Corey LaJoie thinks the home of the Dallas Cowboys could be a venue for NASCAR to consider running at in the future. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

LaJoie suggests AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys as a possible venue. Or even the Superdome in New Orleans if the dimensions worked to put a track inside that facility.

Such venues are enticing to NASCAR because it makes it easier to draw fans instead of asking them to venture far from downtown to a track. Auto Club Speedway is 47 miles from downtown Los Angeles (and 51 miles from the LA Memorial Coliseum). Homestead-Miami Speedway is 32 miles from downtown Miami. Phoenix Raceway is 20 miles from downtown Phoenix.

“As much as I love our racetracks and they’re great, they need a lot of space – not just for the racetrack itself, but for camping and for everything that goes along with it,” Logano said. 

“It’s a different environment than if it’s in the middle of a city, like a football game or a baseball game. If (the Clash at the Coliseum) works, this gives us the ability to go downtown anywhere, and that’s a whole different fanbase that I don’t think we’ve reached our full potential in yet, so if this works it’s great for our sport.”

O’Donnell also hinted NASCAR could go in a different direction with the event.

“We’ve got a lot of old school tracks around the U.S. that you could take some things to,” he said. “If we can pull this off, there are some other markets that we could go to that definitely aren’t LA but go back to the roots of our sport as well.”

Could that mean a Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina? South Boston Speedway in Virginia? Or Bowman Gray Stadium?

Gray Garrison would be interested in hosting a Cup event at Bowman Gray. The facility recently underwent $9 million in renovations, which included repaving the track and upgrading concessions and restrooms.

“I think it would be great,” Garrison said. “All these guys come from short tracks somewhere. … They’re all professionals. They’ve done pretty much everything. I think you could turn them loose in a Wal-Mart parking lot and they could put on a good show.”

Front Row Motorsports adds more Cup races to Zane Smith’s schedule

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Reigning Craftsman Truck Series champion Zane Smith, who seeks to qualify for the Daytona 500, will do six additional Cup races for Front Row Motorsports this season, the team announced Tuesday. Centene Corporation’s brands will sponsor Smith.

The 23-year-old Smith will drive the No. 36 car in his attempt to make the Daytona 500 for Front Row Motorsports. That car does not have a charter. Chris Lawson will be the crew chief. 

Smith’s remaining six Cup races will be in the No. 38 car for Front Row Motorsports, which has a charter. Todd Gilliland will drive the remaining 30 points races and All-Star Open in that car. Ryan Bergenty will be the crew chief for both drivers this year.

Smith’s races in the No. 38 car will be Phoenix (March 12), Talladega (April 23), Coca-Cola 600 (May 28), Sonoma (June 11), Texas (Sept. 24) and the Charlotte Roval (Oct. 8). 

He also will run the full Truck season. 

Centene’s Wellcare, which offers a range of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans will be Smith’s sponsor for the Daytona 500, Phoenix, Talladega and Sonoma. Centene’s Ambetter, a provider of health insurance offerings on the Health Insurance Marketplace, will be Smith’s sponsor at Texas and the Charlotte Roval. 

Smith’s sponsor for the Coca-Cola 600 will be Boot Barn. 

The mix of tracks is something Smith said he is looking forward to this season.

“I wanted to run Phoenix just because the trucks only go to Phoenix once and it’s the biggest race of the year,” Smith told NBC Sports. “I wanted to get as much time and laps as I can at Phoenix even though it’s in a completely different car. I wanted to run road courses, as well, just because I felt road course racing suits me.”

Smith also will be back in the Truck Series. Ambetter Health will be the primary sponsor of Smith’s Truck at Homestead (Oct. 21). The partnership with Centene includes full season associate sponsorship of Smith’s Truck and full season associate sponsorship on the No. 38 Cup car. 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150
Zane Smith holding the Truck series championship trophy last year at Phoenix. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Smith’s connection to Centene Corporation, a St. Louis-based company, goes back to last June’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis. Smith made his Cup debut that weekend, filling in for Chris Buescher, who was out with COVID-19. Smith finished 17th.

“It’s cool to see how into the sport they are,” Smith said of Centene Corporation. “It started out with an appearance I did for them (at World Wide Technology Raceway). I’ve gotten to know that group pretty well.”

Centene also is the healthcare partner of Speedway Motorsports and sponsors a Cup race at Atlanta and Xfinity race at New Hampshire. 

Smith’s opportunity to run select Cup races, including major events as the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600, is part of the fast trajectory he’s made.

In 2019, he made only 10 Xfinity starts with JR Motorsports and didn’t start racing full-time in NASCAR until the 2020 season. Since then, he’s won a Truck title, finished second two other times and scored seven Truck victories.

“I feel like I’ve lived about probably three lifetimes in these four years just with getting that part-time Xfinity schedule and running well and getting my name out there,” Smith said.

He was provided an extra Xfinity race at Phoenix in 2019 with JRM and that proved significant to his future.

“That happened to be probably one of my best runs,” he said of his fifth-place finish that day. “We ran top four, top five all day and (team owner) Maury Gallagher happened to be there. He watched that.”

He signed with Gallagher’s GMS Racing Truck truck.

“It was supposed to be a part-time Truck schedule and (then) I won at Michigan and it was like, ‘Oh man, we’re in the playoffs, we should probably be full-time racing.’ I won another one a couple of weeks later at Dover.”

His success led to second season with the team and he again finished second in the championship. That led to the drive to a title last year.

The championship trophy sits in his home office and serves as motivation every day.

“First thing you see is when you come through my front door is pretty much the trophy,” Smith said. “It drives me crazy now thinking I could have two more to go with it and how close I was. … Really just that much more hungrier to go capture more.”

IndyCar driver Conor Daly to attempt to qualify for Daytona 500

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Conor Daly, who competes full-time in the NTT IndyCar Series, will seek to make his first Daytona 500 this month with The Money Team Racing, the Cup program owned by boxing Hall of Famer Floyd Mayweather.

The team also announced Tuesday plans for Daly to race in up to six additional Cup races this year as his schedule allows. Daly’s No. 50 car at Daytona will be sponsored by BITNILE.com, a digital marketplace launching March 1. Among the Cup races Daly is scheduled to run: Circuit of the Americas (March 26) and the Indianapolis road course (Aug. 13, a day after the IndyCar race there).

“The Money Team Racing shocked the world by making the Daytona 500 last year, and I believe in this team and know we will prepare a great car for this year’s race,” Mayweather said in a statement. “Like a fighter who’s always ready to face the best, Conor has the courage to buckle into this beast without any practice and put that car into the field. Conor is like a hungry fighter and my kind of guy. I sure wouldn’t bet against him.”

Daly will be among at least six drivers vying for four spots in the Daytona 500 for cars without charters. Others seeking to make the Daytona 500 will be seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (Legacy Motor Club), Travis Pastrana (23XI Racing), Zane Smith (Front Row Motorsports), Chandler Smith (Kaulig Racing) and Austin Hill (Beard Motorsports).

“I am thrilled to be given the opportunity to attempt to run in the Daytona 500,” Daly said in a statement. “It is the most prestigious race in NASCAR and to have the chance to compete in it is truly an honor. I am also excited to be running the entire IndyCar Series season and select NASCAR Cup events. I am looking forward to the challenge and can’t wait to get behind the wheel of whatever BITNILE.com race car, boat, dune buggy or vehicle they ask me to drive. Bring it on.”

Daly has made 97 IndyCar starts, dating back to 2013. He made his Cup debut at the Charlotte Roval last year, placing 34th for The Money Team Racing. He has one Xfinity start and two Craftsman Truck Series starts.

 

Will driver clashes carry beyond Coliseum race?

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LOS ANGELES — Tempers started the day before the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum when AJ Allmendinger, upset at an aggressive move Chase Briscoe made in practice, “sent (Briscoe) into the fence.”

The action gained notice in the garage. It was quite a change in attitude from last year’s inaugural Clash when drivers were more cautious because teams didn’t have as many spare parts for the new car at the time.

But seeing the aggression in practice made one wonder what the races would be like. Such actions carried over to Sunday night’s exhibition race, which featured 16 cautions and many reasons for drivers to be upset. 

Kyle Busch made it clear where he stood with Joey Logano running into his car and spinning him as Busch ran sixth with 65 laps to go.

“It’s really unfortunate to be raced by guys that are so two-faced,” Busch said of Logano to SiriusXM NASCAR Radio after the race. “We were in the TV booth earlier tonight together and when we were all done with that, just like ‘Hey man, good luck tonight.’ ‘OK, great, thanks, yea, whatever.’

“Then, lo and behold, there you go, he wrecks me. Don’t even talk to me if you’re going to be that kind of an (expletive deleted) on the racetrack.”

Logano said of the contact with Busch: “I just overdrove it. I screwed up. It was my mistake. It’s still kind of a mystery to me because I re-fired and I came off of (Turn) 2 with no grip and I went down into (Turn 3) and I still had no grip and I slid down into (Busch’s car). Thankfully, he was fast enough to get all the back up there. I felt pretty bad. I was glad he was able to get up there (finishing third).”

Austin Dillon, who finished second, got by Bubba Wallace by hitting him and sending Wallace into the wall in the final laps. Wallace showed his displeasure by driving down into Dillon’s car when the field came by under caution.

“I hate it for Bubba,” Dillon said. “He had a good car and a good run, but you can’t tell who’s either pushing him or getting pushed. I just know he sent me through the corner and I saved it three times through there … and then when I got down, I was going to give the game. Probably a little too hard.”

Said Wallace of the incident with Dillon: “(He) just never tried to make a corner. He just always ran into my left rear. It is what it is. I got run into the fence by him down the straightaway on that restart, so I gave him a shot and then we get dumped.”

Among the reasons for the beating and banging, Briscoe said, was just the level of competition.

“Everyone was so close time-wise, nobody was going to make a mistake because their car was so stuck,” he said. “The only way you could even pass them is hitting them and moving them out of the way. … It was definitely wild in that front to mid-pack area.”

Denny Hamlin, who spun after contact by Ross Chastain, aptly summed up the night by saying: “I could be mad at Ross, I could be mad at five other guys and about seven other could be mad at me. It’s hard to really point fingers. Certainly I’m not happy but what can you do? We’re all just jammed up there.”

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After going winless last year for the first time in eight seasons, Martin Truex Jr. was different this offseason. Asked how, he simply said: “Mad.

“Just determined. Just have a lot of fire in my belly to go out and change what we did last year.”

Sunday was a start. After a season where Truex was in position to win multiple races but didn’t, he won the Clash at the Coliseum, giving him his first Cup victory since Sept. 2021 at Richmond. 

The 42-year-old driver pondered if he wanted to continue racing last season. He had never examined the question before.

“I’m not really good at big decisions,” Truex told NBC Sports in the offseason. “I didn’t really have to do that last year. This sport … to do this job, it takes a lot of commitment, takes a lot of drive, it takes everything that you have to be as good as I want to be and to be a champion.

“I guess it was time for me to just ask myself, ‘Do I want to keep doing this? Am I committed? Am I doing the right things? Can I get this done still? I guess I really didn’t have to do that. I just felt like it was kind of time and it was the way I wanted to do it.”

As he examined things, Truex found no reason to leave the sport.

“I came up with basically I’m too good, I’ve got to keep going,” he said. “That’s how I felt about it honestly. I feel like I can win every race and win a championship again.”

Things went his way Sunday. He took the lead from Ryan Preece with 25 laps to go. Truex led the rest of the way. 

“Hopefully we can do a lot more of that,” Truex said, the gold medal given to the event’s race winner draped around his neck Sunday night. 

“We’ve got a lot going on good in our camp, at Toyota. I’ve got a great team, and I knew they were great last year, and we’ll just see how far we can go, but I feel really good about things. Fired up and excited, and it’s just a good feeling to be able to win a race, and even though it’s not points or anything, it’s just good momentum.”

Asked if this was a statement victory, Truex demurred.

“I just think for us it reminds us that we’re doing the right stuff and we can still go out and win any given weekend,” he said. “We felt that way last year, but it never happened.

“You always get those questions, right, like are we fooling ourselves or whatever, but it’s just always nice when you finish the deal.

“And racing is funny. We didn’t really change anything, the way we do stuff. We just tried to focus and buckle down and say, okay, these are things we’ve got to look at and work on, and that’s what we did, and we had a little fortune tonight.”

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While the tire marks, dented fenders and bruised bumpers showed how much beating and banging took place in Sunday night’s Clash at the Coliseum, it wasn’t until after the race one could understand how much drivers were jostled.

Kyle Larson, who finished fifth, said the restarts were where he felt the impacts the most. 

I only had like one moment last year that I remember where it was like, ‘Wow, like that was a hard hit,’” Larson said. “I think we stacked up on a restart at like Sonoma or something, and (Sunday’s Clash) was like every restart you would check up with the guy in front of you and just get clobbered from behind and your head whipping around and slamming off the back of the seat.

“I don’t have a headache, but I could see how if others do. It’s no surprise because it was very violent for the majority of the race. We had so many restarts, and like I said, every restart you’re getting just clobbered and then you’re clobbering the guy in front of you. You feel it a lot.”

After the race, Bubba Wallace said: “Back still hurts. Head still hurts.”

Kyle Busch apologizes for violating Mexican firearm law

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Kyle Busch issued a statement Monday apologizing “for my mistake” of carrying a firearm without a license in Mexico.

The incident happened Jan. 27 at a terminal for private flights at Airport Cancun International as Busch returned with his wife from vacation to the U.S.

The Public Ministry of the Attorney General of the Republic in Quintana Roo obtained a conviction of three years and six months in prison and a fine of 20,748 pesos ($1,082 U.S. dollars) against Busch for the charge. Busch had a .380-caliber gun in his bag, along with six hollow point cartridges, according to Mexican authorities.

Busch’s case was presented in court Jan. 29.

Busch issued a statement Monday on social media. He stated he has “a valid concealed carry permit from my local authority and adhere to all handgun laws, but I made a mistake by forgetting it was in my bag.

“Discovery of the handgun led to my detainment while the situation was resolved. I was not aware of Mexican law and had no intention of bringing a handgun into Mexico.

“When it was discovered, I fully cooperated with the authorities, accepted the penalties, and returned to North Carolina.

“I apologize for my mistake and appreciate the respect shown by all parties as we resolved the matter. My family and I consider this issue closed.”

A NASCAR spokesperson told NBC Sports on Monday that Busch does not face any NASCAR penalty for last month’s incident.