Kurt Busch is having a very bad off season. He’s lost his crew chief, been fined by NASCAR to the tune of $50,000 and Monday he found out that he was out of a job at Penske Racing.
Of course, everything that’s happened has been his fault.
Busch has been known for his lack of anger management throughout his career. During his first years in NASCAR, Busch was known for is tirades whenever he was having a bad day. His team at the time, Roush Racing decided enough was enough and Busch and the team parted ways in 2005, in fact the end came sooner than expected when Busch let his emotions fly and directed them at a local law enforcement officer in Arizona. The team released Busch prior to the seasons end saying that they would no longer wanted to apologize for their drivers actions.
Penske Racing picked up the Las Vegas native and in the five years since, Busch has let his mouth run afoul of those around him on several occasions. This season however, it would seem that Busch’s anger has cost him yet another seat in NASCAR.
This season, Busch has been heard more than once on the team radio railing against his team using words that might make even sailors blush. In September, Busch had to be restrained after trying to go after a reporter on pit road at Richmond. Later that same evening, Busch confronted another reporter and tore up a piece of paper she offered him to look at it that proved some earlier comments he made on pit road.
Busch did make NASCAR’s season ending Chase, but faded over the course of the final ten races finishing the year in 11th place in the standings.
His troubles were capped off in the season ending race at Homestead-Miami when his Dodge suffered mechanical woes early in the race. As Busch took his car to the garage area he was seen on an in-car camera giving a one finger salute to someone as he passed. It turned out that he was upset that several street cars were in the garage area, never mind that they belonged to the contingent escorting the First Lady and the wife of the Vice-President of the United States.
A few moments later while the team was repairing his Dodge, a well placed fan caught the scene of Busch cursing out pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch while waiting to be interviewed. Punch eventually gave up and Busch stormed off leaving a wake of curse words in his wake.
NASCAR fined Busch $50,000 for his actions.
As the series headed to Las Vegas for the season ending celebration, Busch seemed almost contrite. He admitted to his problem and even said he was seeing a ‘sports psychologist’ to help with his anger issues.
“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.”
It would seem though that like Roush Racing in 2005, Penske Racing had enough. However whatever happens in Busch’s future, one thing can’t be overlooked; Busch is a former champion, having won the Cup title in 2004, and he has 24 career wins including two this past season. Ater Busch was sent packing, don’t expect a proven winner to be unemployed very long. Whether he’s signed by another team or if he does something such as buy the former Red Bull team and become an owner-driver, Busch won’t be disappearing from the garage anytime soon.
His current troubles aside, if Busch can learn to channel his anger he could use it to his advantage. But if he continues to have incidents such as he had this past season, he might just want to grow a handlebar moustache like the cartoon villains of old. He might never tie damsels to railroad tracks, but with his image as a bad-boy, he could easily become NASCAR’s greatest villain ever. At the end of the day that might not be such a bad thing for NASCAR after all.
UPDATE Kurt Busch says leaving Penske is a ‘positive step for me’
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