By The Associated Press
STATESVILLE, N.C. — Kyle Busch, who leads the standings in NASCAR’S top racing circuit, pleaded guilty Tuesday to speeding 128 mph in a 45 mph zone in May and was placed on probation for a year and fined $1,000.
Iredell District Judge Thomas Church also revoked Busch’s driver’s license for 45 days and told him not to drive during that time.
Busch, who also pleaded no contest to reckless driving, apologized to the judge.
“I’ve taken full responsibility for my actions and lack of judgment,” Busch told the judge. “It was the opportunity of a lifetime but the wrong place and day to do it,” referring to the yellow Lexus LFA high-performance car he’d been given to try out for 24 hours by the Hendrick Lexus car dealership.
Losing his license won’t keep Bush off the race tracks. A valid driver’s license isn’t required to drive in NASCAR.
Busch, 26, drives the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Sprint Cup Series. On Sunday, after winning the race at Michigan International Speedway, Busch moved into sole possession of first place in the Sprint Cup standings.
His lawyer, Cliff Homesley of Mooresville, said Busch has agreed to sponsor 10 driving schools that will benefit 300 teenage drivers through Top Fuel drag racer Doug Herbert’s B.R.A.K.E.S. program, a hands-on educational program at ZMax Dragway in Concord and other racing venues.
He said Busch also has invested in Iredell County with a $10 million facility where he builds NASCAR Truck series chassis and employs 35 workers.
The defense attorney said Busch’s foundation “has given tens of thousands of dollars to places around the country trying to help people.”
“The citizens of Iredell County are blessed this individual has come to Iredell County to live,” Homesley told the judge. “He made one mistake.”
The judge told Busch: “I’m very impressed with what you have done in the past and what you will do in the future. I think you’ll be a different person.”
“Sure will, your honor,” Busch, dressed in a black suit, white shirt and dark tie, replied.
Court records show Busch was cited in 2008 for reckless driving in Virginia and found guilty in the case of improper control/driving. He also was ticketed for speeding 55 mph in a 35 mph zone in Iredell County in 2008, records show, and held responsible for a lesser speed.
Nobody was injured as Busch sped down Perth Road on May 24 with his wife, Samantha, in the passenger seat of the sports car. An Iredell County deputy stopped him near a Lake Norman subdivision, not far from a day care, a church and several neighborhoods.
Nearby residents were incensed that the millionaire race car driver might have put them at risk and somehow avoided going to jail.
Busch was ticketed for speeding and reckless driving. He wasn’t jailed at the discretion of the officer.
Officials said in May they did not give Busch preferential treatment when they let him go with a citation instead of jailing him.
Capt. Darren Campbell of the Iredell Sheriff’s Office said Busch “had the proper ID. He was from the area. He was a low risk to flee.”
In a statement released the day he was ticketed, Busch said he was test driving a new sports car and “got carried away.”
“I went beyond the speed I should have been going on a public road,” he said. “I apologize to the public, my fans, sponsors and race teams for my lack of judgment.
“I can assure you that something like this will never happen again.”
Busch reportedly told the officer who stopped him the $350,000 sports car was “just a toy.”
“It wasn’t that it was a toy, it’s a high-performance vehicle and that shouldn’t be taken lightly,” Busch said in May. “It should be driven with caution. Obviously I didn’t have caution. There’s probably a reason why on TV commercials they show at the bottom, ‘Professional driver, closed course.’ Mine was not that.”