KYLE BUSCH, A YELLOW LEXUS LFA, AND 128 MPH IN A 45 MPH ZONE
This article is from our archives and has not been updated and integrated with our "new" site yet... Even so, it's still awesome - so keep reading!
Published on Fri, May 27, 2011
By: The LACar Editorial Staff
Poet Brendan Behan said there’s no such thing as bad publicity (except your own obituary). For Lexus, the adage rings true in an incident that involves its LFA sports car and NASCAR driver Kyle Busch. After being cited for driving 128 mph in a 45 mph zone, Busch reportedly tried a defense that bordered on the “car made me do it” to the North Carolina sheriff’s deputy. That’s when the publicity started rolling in. Lexus’ ad agency couldn’t have dreamed up a better publicity campaign for the LFA. For Lexus, it was all good for the LFA—and it was free. It started when Kyle Busch, driving a Lexus LFA, was pulled over on May 24, 2011 by a North Carolina sheriff's deputy for going 128 mph in a 45 mph zone in Iredell County—about 30 miles north of Charlotte. Busch was cited for careless and reckless driving and speeding. Busch was quick to acknowledge what happened, and issued the following statement: "I was test-driving a new sports car and I got carried away," Busch said. "I went beyond the speed I should have been going on a public road. I apologize to the public, my fans, sponsors, and race teams for my lack of judgment." The Associated Press learned that the citation quoted Busch as telling the officer, the Lexus was "just a toy." Acknowledging the flippancy of that remark, Busch stated on May 26th, "It wasn't a toy, it's a high performance vehicle. It should be driven with caution. Obviously I didn't have caution and I had a lack of judgment. There's probably reason why on the TV commercials that they always show at the bottom, 'Professional driver, closed course.' Mine was not that. Again, I apologize sincerely. All I can do is make sure it doesn't happen again."
It turns out that the Lexus LFA was loaned to both Kyle Busch and fellow Joe Gibbs Racing team drving Denny Hamlin earlier in the week. According to Associated Press Auto Racing Writer Jenna Fryer, Hamlin tweeted a picture of the car the day before Busch was ticketed with the post, "If u see me today in ur rear view driving this Please move!!" Hamlin went on to tell Fryer, "That car is absolutely amazing. The best driving machine I've ever been in" AP reports that Hamlin hopes to have the one he ordered by March. "Obviously it's hard to keep the speed out of it." So did Hamlin also break the speed limit? "Most I went is about 10 over," he told Fryer with a smile. "The transmission shifted well, I can tell you that. I got up to speed fast." "I've probably been guilty of the same thing myself, just didn't get caught," Dale Earnhardt Jr. told Fryer. But Earnhardt quickly back-tracked and tried to make clear that he doesn’t mean to say that he ever drove 128 mph on a public road. "I don't really know if I got that fast. I didn't know we had enough straight road in North Carolina to get going that quick. Apparently there's a piece somewhere." “Five-time defending champion Jimmie Johnson was also sympathetic to Busch,” said AP’s Fryer. “While not condoning the speed, Johnson said high performance vehicles are built for drivers who ‘stand on the gas.’” "We as drivers aren't necessarily wired the same," he said. "It's tempting, especially when we have the skill sets that we do as drivers and you get a high performance car and you just want to see how it stacks up. I guess everybody that has a high performance car stands on the throttle at some point. I'm not trying to justify what he did, but we can all look at ourselves in the mirror and know that we've wondered what it felt like to stand on the gas pedal." Lexus offered few public comments on the Kyle Busch speeding ticket incident. "He returned the car, nobody got hurt and for that we're grateful," Lexus representative Nancy Hubbell told Fryer. "We know that he is definitely remorseful. He's owned up to it, and we appreciate that. I think people recognize that this was an issue that the car didn't go fast all by itself, and the driver was testing its capabilities."
The Lexus LFA is hand-built in Japan, and only 87 of the 500 scheduled vehicles have been built, Hubbell told Fryer. “Of the 87 completed, only 20 are in the United States and all are privately owned.” - RN Group of 8: More views of the Lexus LFA at facebook.com/lacar.com For more conventional publicity on the Lexus LFA, go to lexus.com/LFA