By admin | November 25, 2011
By Richard Allen
In a somewhat oddly timed move, NASCAR announced on the afternoon after Thanksgiving that they were issuing a $50,000 fine against driver Kurt Busch for his actions during the Ford 400 at the Homestead- Miami Speedway.
After early mechanical issues forced Busch to the garage area for repairs, he was caught on live television giving an inappropriate hand gesture to someone. Then, a bystander with a hand held camera captured the often volatile driver delivering a profanity laced tirade toward members of the ESPN broadcast crew who had arrived to do a live interview. That interview was eventually nixed as the driver finally became too difficult to deal with.
This incident proved to be somewhat of a culmination of run-ins with media members throughout the 2011 season. On other occasions Busch has had verbal confrontations and even resorted to grabbing a note paper from one reporter and ripping it up following one press conference.
Busch has a tendency toward abusive verbal behavior and inappropriate actions. His career has been marked by multiple confrontations with media and fellow drivers. Jimmy Spencer, Jimmie Johnson, his crew members and even car owner Roger Penske have been on the receiving end of his anger filled tirades. At one point in his career, previous owner Jack Roush pulled him from his car two races before the end of the 2005 season because the driver had become too argumentative.
The bottom line is that Busch’s behavior appears from the outside looking in to be out of control. After only a brief listen to his scanner channel during virtually any race will reveal that he seemingly has little respect for most of the people he comes in contact with so strong action would be called for in this case.
But while the average person reading this blog could hardly afford to pay a $50,000 fine, a driver of Busch’s financial status can likely afford such a penalty easily.
Financial penalties to millionaires are of little consequence. Just a few weeks ago, NASCAR took drastic action against Busch’s brother Kyle when it parked him for Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series races in Texas after he intentionally wrecked another driver in a Camping World Truck Series race.
That action seems to have gotten the attention of the younger Busch, and perhaps more importantly, his car owner and sponsors. The time for similar action against the older Busch seems to have come as well. However, such was not dealt out this time. And strangely, no probation was mentioned in the NASCAR announcement.
Not that a driver being on, or not on, probation has much to do with the punishments doled out by NASCAR, it would have seemed a logical step to take in the direction toward a future suspension should Busch’s behavior not be deterred by the fine.
Whether true or not, Friday’s action came off more like a sanctioning body that felt the need to do something because they had been embarrassed when the incident in question became public rather than a sanctioning body that really wanted to punish the inappropriate behavior of one of its participants. Hopefully that assessment is not correct but more often than not, appearances are everything.
At some point, Kurt Busch needs to learn the same lesson that his brother was forced to learn a couple of weeks prior to the end of the 2011 season. This seemed an appropriate time for that teaching to take place. But NASCAR chose instead to deliver a message with less bite which causes this writer to wonder when the next incident will come.
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