Kurt Busch is reinstated to NASCAR and the No. 41 effective immediately. The District Attorney in Delaware hasn’t found sufficient evidence to file any charges against him regarding the incident that occurred last November at Dover. NASCAR’s experts in the field of behavioral healthcare have deemed Busch healthy enough to return to competition. The sport’s officials have declared he will be eligible for the Chase. His car owner is eager to put him back behind the wheel as soon as possible and even Chevrolet stated that they will support his return to driving – though it will keep a sharp eye on “the situation.”
The only caveat that lingers as a black mark since the beginning of this particular domestic drama is that Busch will have to follow all the requirements of the family court in Dover.
Thus endeth the punishment for Busch as regards to his salary.
But what of popular opinion?
As much as NASCAR is a multi-billion dollar sporting industry, it is still an entertainment media mogul. The media wholly relies upon the interest and goodwill of the public to maintain its ability to generate cash. NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing must be a little wary of what the Twittersphere might have to say on the mater. After all, the elder Busch brother is hardly the prom king when it comes to finding the support of race fans. Time and again he’s earned the reputation of a surly competitor, capable of taking down his peers, members of the media and even public servants with rude comments and an aggressive manner. Why would NASCAR so quickly capitulate and reinstate Busch once the DA gave up any interest in him?
Because for once, NASCAR is following a fairly transparent process and doing what it said it would do if Busch complied with all its requests and was cleared in the courts. According to NASCAR, the driver of the No. 41 has done all that. He has agreed to follow a treatment program and remains on probation. In short, Busch is doing what his employer is requiring of him.
Once you take away the cameras, glitz and multi-million dollar salaries, we are still talking about a man’s job and a corporation’s willingness to work its employee. Maybe NASCAR fans will have lots to say about Kurt Busch, what they think really happened and whether or not they might employ a person with such a short temper, but ultimately public opinion has nothing to do with the immediate reactions of NASCAR, Stewart-Haas Racing and Chevrolet. They are all adhering to expected good business practices – at least for the moment.
However, that doesn’t mean Busch is in the clear. His contract with SHR will expire. Chevrolet and other sponsors will have their say as to whether they wish to extend any relationship with the prickly guy. And those decisions will be based upon not only Busch’s on-track performance but also the prevailing sentiment in the grandstands.
NASCAR is only buying Busch a stay of execution. It’s what it had to do. But in the end, it will be his future actions that determine if he has any further place in the history books of this sport.
The story isn’t over, folks. Not by a long shot. This was simply the latest chapter in this extended soap opera.
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