Kurt Busch may be the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion and winner of 24 Cup races including two in 2011, but he’s currently unemployed and in some ways he’s a marked man.
Busch of course has no one to blame but himself. After several incidents involving his lack of emotional control both on and off the track, Penske Racing finally released Busch, although it was announced as a ‘mutual’ decision. His release is much like one that happens when a government official submits a resignation after being caught in a scandal, it would be a pretty sure bet that the person couldn’t say ‘no I’d rather not resign’. No matter how it happened behind the scenes, the release from Penske isn’t a first from Busch; it happened at Roush in 2005 and like 2011 one of the biggest reasons was anger issues.
Either way Busch is out of a job. There are some seats available to him, but should another team take a chance on Busch. Does his demonstrated talent outweigh the issues that he could bring to the table?
Busch is a fierce competitor and like any fierce competitor hates to lose. It’s also no doubt frustrating when the elements he can’t control , such as equipment or his pit stops, aren’t good enough to contend. Busch is quick to voice his opinion, most often negative, at his team when his equipment, or crew, can’t perform. But not every team gets it right every race and very few other drivers throw barbs over the radio, and none certainly to the degree that Busch does. In his private life, Busch has also had some struggles, a divorce is never easy on anyone and that could lead to anger that is directed as someone else, however Busch isn’t the only driver in the garage with marital problems and none have had to be restrained from going after a member of the media.
Busch himself has been nearly contrite throughout. In Las Vegas for the season ending celebrations, Busch admitted he has a problem and added that he has sought professional help.
“You can work 364 days on being positive and building a better platform, and it can take just one day to knock it all back,” Busch told reporters. “I need to harness what happens in the race car and keep it there. Then I need to step out of the car and do a better job to understand that if we didn’t reach our goal for that day or that moment, that it’s going to be all right at the end.”
“Working with a sports psychologist, I’ve gotten a small grasp,” Busch said. “But there’s obviously bigger things that I have to accomplish, and things can’t happen overnight.”
The question is how has he addressed his issues prior to 2011? What did he do after his release from Roush in 2005? And is this a sincere genuine effort on his part? Or is he arrogant enough to think his talent and 2004 title outweighs his anger? Does he even deserve another chance? Like Busch said the answers to those questions may not happen overnight.
The time is actually short, and answers need to come quickly. The 2012 season is fast approaching and any team needing a driver may simply roll the dice and hope that whatever is ailing Kurt Busch is cured before the green flag falls at Daytona in February.
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