Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Thomas Bowles · Monday November 14, 2005
Ever see the movie Good Will Hunting? It came out a few years ago, and starred Matt Damon as a smart, talented young kid working as the Harvard University janitor because circumstances and personality kept him from pursuing the college degree he could have easily attained.
Certainly, the issues in that movie Damon had to overcome were far different from Kurt Busch, but the two men share a basic similarity. Both were talented young men, intellectual geniuses who could be well-spoken when they wanted to be and had the whole world in front of them. Yet, both seemed unable to put away their demons, finding every way possible to throw it all away in the face of several people trying to help them.
Unfortunately for Kurt, there’s one big difference : while the character in that movie never had things handed to him, racing’s older Busch has had every possible opportunity handed to him on a silver platter since Day One at Roush Racing.
That tenure at Roush has now come to an end, in light of Kurt’s latest embarassing incident in a long line of indiscretions and “Oops! I did it again’s!” Except this time, with Roush staring a “reckless driving” incident in the face, one that could very possibly have become a DUI if the breathalyzer used by the police had worked properly, the veil of protection employed by the team around Kurt finally evaporated. With sponsors Diageo and Rubbermaid at their wit’s end, and with only two races left on a contact Kurt asked to be broken for 2006 merely three months earlier, there was no rhyme or reason for Roush to defend another public incident in which perhaps their most talented driver comes out looking like an ass. Simply put, by Roush Team President Geoff Smith, “It’s the last straw for Roush Racing. As I said, we’re officially retiring as Kurt Busch’s apologists, effective today.”
It appeared during the weekend’s events that both Roush and Smith were surprisingly nonchalant about the whole experience; if anything, they appeared relieved to have the opportunity to get rid of what had been an emotionally volatile driver at best in the seven years he’d been driving for the team. Kurt Busch’s laundry list of indiscretions have been long and well-documented, among them:
It’s the last statement in this Hall of Shame list—- “not befitting of a champion”—- that should have everyone all up in arms about the current predicament. One week from now, the sport’s likely to crown a champion, Tony Stewart, that when he won his first title in 2002 was ten times as volatile as Kurt could be in his worst moments. Yet, when defending the title the next season, Stewart controlled his temper and conducted himself in a way to become a fitting ambassador for the sport as its reigning champion, making you forget how badly he’d been NASCAR’s bad boy just one year before.
Kurt, meanwhile, has taken steps to become anything but a deserving champion. His volatile temper continues to be just as uncontrollable as ever, and the actions off the track continue to win him few supporters. His shocking move to go from Roush to Penske seems to be largely based on repairing his image, yet how can you repair an image when it’s your personality, not the car that defines you? Just two weeks ago at Atlanta, three championship contenders saw their chances for the title ended by mechanical failures or accidents, Busch among them. But while the other two drivers elminated, Rusty Wallace and Jeremy Mayfield, took the time to compose themselves and give graceful interviews for their sponsors and fans, Busch stormed off red hot, refusing interviews by NBC and leaving the track without comment. Those actions define what type of person you are under pressure, and despite a championship under his belt, it appears the price of fame continues to provoke the worst. Of course, this reign is culminating in a two-week period where Busch won’t even be on the track due to his off-track problems, an embarassing situation at best for a sport that prides itself on integrity amongst its competitors.
Geoff Smith put it best when discussing Kurt’s problems with the media this morning.
“The problem is this is a high-profile business,” he said. “There’s a great burden on the athletes and on the teams in NASCAR to demonstrate that we are a cut above other sports with regard to tolerance for misbehavior or however you want to characterize it.”
As Smith said, drivers in this sport are supported by so many other people, whether it be team personnel or sponsor representatives, that they have the obligation to conduct themselves at a high standard. There is no room for a Terrell Owens in this sport because no one would put up the money necessary for him to compete. The fact that Kurt is the Nextel Cup champion, yet continues to act without realization of his responsibility tells you the magnitude of the problems he’s going to have to overcome.
Of course, a lot is going to be made out of Kyle’s defense of his older brother in his post-race interviews following his win at Phoenix, from a select group of mediahounds carrying Barry Bonds-like grudges against the Buschs, all too eager to throw them under the bus after the way they’ve been treated. But you can’t blame Kyle for defending his brother, even though his surprising Victory Lane comments went too far as to apologize for Kurt, to Kurt’s sponsors, for being forced to take “a true champion out of the race car today.” Later , in his post-race press conference, Kyle made vague statements about how the media usually reports false statements before recomposing himself, offering a quiet statement basically saying he would have no further comment, and continuing on.
But, to be honest, what do you expect Kyle Busch to do? My brother and I are almost exactly the same age as the two Buschs, and as the older brother in my twosome I’d expect my brother to be behind me 100% regardless of whether I was right or wrong. And there’s no disputing that the demise of Kurt is a terrible thing to see. This is a man who, in better moments, is one of NASCAR’s most intellectually gifted characters. Almost choosing to become a licensed pharmacist before getting picked at the right place at the right time for the racing world, Busch’s intellectualism has the potential to drag in those “smartypants” sports fans with Ph. D’s and high-class personalities who claim a “redneck sport” isn’t worth their time. Busch’s SAT-style answers to questions and complex personality appeal to that group in ways a Ward Burton simply can’t.
So what happens next? Busch’s replacement, Kenny Wallace, spoke for all of us when he quoted after the race, “Now, I think the biggest question right now is, what is Miller Brewing thinking?”
And that’s a great question. Certainly, the relationship Kurt needs to establish with Miller now, after what can at the very least be described as an awful mistake, will define his future with not only the Penske organization but the racing world. Such was the focus of Jack Roush, claiming, “He (Kurt) is a young man with potential that has been realized to an extent, but he’s got some challenge building relationships both in the public and in the sponsor community. He’s going to need to really realize that potential going forward.”
In Good Will Hunting, Robin Williams becomes the steadying role model needed to change Matt Damon’s life around and reshape his future. For Busch, that task now falls to Roger Penske and a soon-to-be-retired Rusty Wallace, hanging around the organization as a mentor and more than likely someone who’ll be called upon to guide Kurt’s career back in the right direction. Certainly, there are examples out there of people who’ve turned it around. Kurt needs to look no further than this year’s likely Nextel Cup champion, Tony Stewart to find a clear before-and-after picture of what life can be like once you’ve faced your demons and put them to bed.
Initially, based on the small snippet of Kurt the world saw on Sunday he might be ready to do that, fighting back tears as he realized he wasn’t going to get away with this one. Hopefully, Roger Penske can parlay that disgust at Kurt’s own actions and turn it into something positive. “We support him 100 percent for the future,” said Penske when asked Sunday about 2006. “We will work with him to be a great driver.” Unfortunately, Penske’s got it wrong. A great driver, he’s already got. It’s a healthy and positive public image that he’s going to create.
The climax of Good Will Hunting ends with Damon attempting to better his own life. Now, we’re at the peak of the saga of Kurt Busch, and things will either get better or progressively worse. It’s up to Kurt to make the ultimate call to save opportunities thousands of others would give everything they had to be a part of.
Only one thing we know for sure: this week, he’ll have plenty of time to think about it.
©2000 - 2008 Thomas Bowles and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
I am far from a Kurt Busch fan. In fact, I don’t like the guy at all, never have, and never will. With that said, the actions taken by Rousch were far too severe, and totally out of line. Busch was issued a traffic citation. Plain and simple, there are no nuances or extenuating circumstances. To be suspended from your job, and have it cost you hundreds of thousands of dollars (he is now guranteed 10th place) is inconcievable. A racecar driver was issued a ticket, stop the presses, “Oh, we’re so embarrassed.” Give me a break. Roush was looking for a little redemption for Busch leaving him earlier in the year. This was his chance and he pulled the trigger. Granted he wouldn’t have had the opportunity if Kurt wouldn’t have been speeding, but nonetheless, I hope I never get fired from my job for driving recklessly.
Are you kidding me? You said “This is a man who, in better moments, is one of NASCARâ€™s most intellectually gifted characters. Almost choosing to become a licensed pharmacist before getting picked at the right place at the right time for the racing world, Buschâ€™s intellectualism has the potential to drag in those â€œsmartypantsâ€ sports fans with Ph. Dâ€™s and high-class personalities who claim a â€œredneck sportâ€ isnâ€™t worth their time. Buschâ€™s SAT-style answers to questions and complex personality appeal to that group in ways a Ward Burton simply canâ€™t.”
Kurt Busch can’t form a clear declarative sentence most of the time. If using polysyllabic words incorrectly is your idea of “intellectual”, then heaven help us all.
It’s sad to see a guy with so much talent just waste an opportunity that only a select few in this world ever get to realize. Same can be said for T.O.,,,but , thats whay makes the world go round. For Kurt’s sake , I hope he gets some guidance to help him along the way. He already has the driver part down , now he just needs to work on the person part , I would love too see him come back and kick some but,,,From a die hard Harvick fan and a constant rooting force for all the underdogs and attitude cases. I once had a very bad attitude,,,thought I was invincible , well , I can tell you , we are all human. TWC
Iâ€™ld love to see him gone from Nextel. I have hated that [guy] from day one. He has been nothing but trouble with his snobbish arrogant ways from the start!!!
It was all about Jack getting back at Kurt. Oviously janet doesnt recognize talent, Kurt is the closest to an Earnhardt there is, bottom line!
I didn’t want to directly edit your comment there Ronnie, but I’m afraid you misselled Tony Stewart. Heck, Tony doesn’t even start with a K.
I love the bad boys, #3,20,29!!! Kurt is not a bad boy he is a spoiled little brat that needs his butt whacked. Roush just gave him a time out.
I certainly hope you are not comparing Kurt to the late Dale Earnhardt Sr. He will never have the grandeur of Dale.
Would Roush have taken this action if Busch were leading the Chase? It’s an easy out to bring sponsors into the discussion, but Busch was only charged with reckless driving, not DUI.
It wasn’t the traffic ticket that got Kurt suspended. That was only the icing on the cake, on top of a long list of incidents that Tom documented. I believe Kurt has a lot of talent and intelligence. However, those things will get you nowhere in NASCAR or in life without respect. Kurt needs to learn that and Jack is teaching him the lesson.
you can thank this CHASE CRAP for Busch being a nascar champion.Just like Mayfield finishing in the top 10 LOL what a joke
This is obviously a slanted article. You sadly fail to mention some of the good Kurt has done. You are simply playing to the crowd that hates Kurt. Bad press.
Kurt, an intellectual as in “Good Will Hunting”? Are you smoking crack? The boy is simply a big mouth moron and just another of the whining millionaires that inhabit NASCAR today. What NASCAR needs is less whining about who bumped who and some real racing!
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