CHARLOTTE, N.C. — NASCAR on Monday suspended Kurt Busch one week for verbally abusing a media member.
NASCAR said Busch’s behavior after Saturday’s Nationwide Series race at Dover was in violation of the probation he was placed on after an incident last month at Darlington. Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR and placed on probation through July 25 for reckless driving on pit road, and a post-race altercation with Ryan Newman’s crew members.
That probation has now been extended through the end of the year.
Busch’s latest penalty stems from a confrontation with a Sporting News reporter after Saturday’s race. Contact on the track with Justin Allgaier led to a discussion on pit road after the race, and Busch was asked if being on probation impacted the way he raced Allgaier.
“It refrains me from not beating the (expletive) out of you right now because you ask me stupid questions. But since I’m on probation, I suppose that’s improper to say as well,” Busch replied. The exchange was captured on video.
It’s yet another bump in the road for Busch, who has been trying to recover this season from a series of ugly meltdowns that contributed to him losing his job in December with Penske Racing.
Busch had a rage-filled rant on his team radio last year that drew widespread attention, sparred with two reporters in September at Richmond, and then was caught on video by a fan verbally abusing an ESPN reporter during the season finale. The video was posted on YouTube, and Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR after it went public.
He and Penske Racing split about a week later in what was called a “mutual agreement.” Although most believe Busch was fired in the fallout of yet another embarrassing incident, he has maintained he was no longer enjoying his time racing and needed to leave Penske “to put the fun back into racing for me.”
Busch has seemingly tried to do that this year driving for underfunded Phoenix Racing, but his talent outweighs the capability of his race team and it’s caused his temper to get the best of him on more than one occasion.
It’s what happened at Darlington last month. A flat tire caused Busch to wreck with six laps remaining in the Sprint Cup race, and he headed to pit road for repairs. As he left, he did a burnout through Newman’s pit box. There were crew members over the wall and on pit road at the time, and they complained they could have been injured by Busch’s actions.
Busch also ran into Newman’s car on pit road after the race, and several of Newman’s crew members confronted Busch, who said he was taking off his helmet and didn’t see Newman’s car.
Newman went on the offensive after the incident, accusing Busch of having a “chemical imbalance.”
“It’s easy to see and it’s easy to say that Kurt blew a fuse again,” Newman told SI.com after the race. “I’m not sure why he did it and tried to run over our guys and NASCAR officials. And nobody is. Circumstances I think are that he lied (about hitting Newman’s car on pit road) and was so frustrated that he doesn’t know how to deal with his anger.”
Busch, the 2004 NASCAR champion, admitted last December he’s seeing a sports psychologist to help him with his temper.
This latest penalty comes as Busch is jockeying for one of the seats due to become open at the end of the year. He’s said all along this year is about positioning himself to return to a top-level ride next season.
It also marks yet another suspension for the Busch family. Younger brother Kyle was suspended last November for two races at Texas because he intentionally wrecked Ron Hornaday Jr. in a Truck Series race.
Kyle Busch had to fight hard with sponsors for Joe Gibbs Racing to not be fired from his rides after the Texas incident.