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NASCAR fine will do little to curb Busch behavior

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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10 Responses to “NASCAR fine will do little to curb Busch behavior”

  1. Russ Edwards Says:
    November 27th, 2011 at 10:12 am

    Really good points and of course true. But let me add.

    Drivers arent that hard to find. Look at the deserving drivers who could replace either one of the Busch brothers tomorrow, and the team wouldn’t miss a beat.

    Why it wont happen is the amount of money invested in “building a brand”. That money would be lost if they can the driver. So its kinda like the old joke “cheaper to keep her”.

  2. mr clause Says:
    November 28th, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    What I don’t understand is why Penske and Gibbs don’t see how the Busch brothers antics are dragging their reputations into the mud along with their own. It’s just as hard to understand why these sponsors continue to affiliate themselves with these two. These contracts must have conduct clauses. At some point it has to come down to assessing the the value vs the detriment to the teams and the sponsors. Were I either an owner or sponsor neither of the Busch brothers would be a candidate for my ride. A year or two in lesser equipment might give them both a strong lesson in humility. Maybe either owner parking the car immediately upon a radio rant against his team mates or a stupid move that eliminates a competitor would get their attention. These monetary fines are meaningless. It’s going to be really interesting to see who Penske finds to be the next crew chief for Kurt. Maybe he’ll come with a powerful right hand and an equal temper.

  3. jerseygirl Says:
    November 28th, 2011 at 1:15 pm

    Sounds like someone needs to call Jimmy Spencer in again and have him remind Kurt that being a jerk does have consequences - the punch that Spencer threw all those years ago seemed to have gotten Kurt’s attention at least for a little while.

    I’m sure that there will be people who say it’s not appropriate to advocate violence as a way of modifying behavior and they are probably correct.

    Sometimes though you have to find the correct way to get someone’s attention before they will modify the offending behavior and as Rich pointed out, money is not enough of a motivator.

    The various statements issued by Penske and the sponsors are meaningless PR drivel, just like KuBu’s apology.

  4. sylvia richardson Says:
    November 28th, 2011 at 4:24 pm

    Why don’t all of us just [get over this] and move on. ITS OVER.

  5. KeithfromDallas Says:
    November 28th, 2011 at 5:47 pm

    I don’t think Penske has the ball joints to park Kurt, nor Gibbs to Kyle. NASCAR had to park Kyle bc they new Gibbs wasn’t man enough. I had a lot of respect for Penske and Gibbs. Loved the heyday of Penske in the CART days, and Gibbs when he coached. Unfortunately, money talks and everything else doesn’t matter. Hell, God is even irrelevant. You don’t see Gibbs madating Kyle speak out against his actions, as a Christian should do. A truly apologetic person would have foregone their PR people and drafte their own apology. It might mean more to hear a common tongue venacular used rather than legal mumbo jumbo. Acknowledge your ommission and repent, repent, repent. These guys are given an opportunity 99% of us don’t have. We pretend on our gaming devices and fantasy race games. So it sickens me when people look a gift horse in the mouth, then kick its teeth out and walk away to race another day. If fans begin to boycott their products, maybe then and only then the ball joints of Penske and Gibbs will surface.
    God Bless All, Happy Holidays….

  6. SAB Says:
    November 28th, 2011 at 6:39 pm

    Since Kurt was pulled out of a ride before the final 2 races by Jack Rousch, even that, apparently, isn’t enough to make an impression on him. It certainly seems that neither of the Busch boys was ever taught to have any respect for anyone or anything, and it may end up putting a premature end to either one or both of their careers.

  7. Sue Rarick Says:
    November 28th, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Another possibility is that Kurt and others distance themselves from the media. They could start using their publicist to arrange any media interactions. They could start using channel two for in-car communications instead of channel one. Any communication from the driver would be well filtered before reaching the media. And if I was a driver my stock answer to most questions would be ” I’ll have to look at the video before commenting”. In general I’d never talk to the press unless absolutely needed and then only after a script of answers had been prepared.

  8. abe browne Says:
    November 28th, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    I am very disappointed in Mr Gibbs and Mr Penske. Any other person in their employment who demonstrate the same actions the Busch brothers have would have been terminated on the spot. Their sons who run the organizations probably run it the way mid-evil princes do upon inheritance of the kingdom, clueless. I am even more disappointed with the major sponsors. I believe that M&M–Mars and Shell Penzoil may be proud of this type of bad behavior. This maybe them..maybe bad corporations. Any employee or management personnel for either company would have been dismissed. Nascar should park both these Busch brother hoodlums for the Daytona 500. Nascar should also park the cars for the Daytona 500. Prince Brian France should demonstrate he has a clue. Good article Richard.

  9. Mr. Tony Geinzer Says:
    November 28th, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    Rich, I got the greatest act of satire in NASCAR History: Head away from the Mountains of Busch Brothers, which is a play off the classic Anheiuser Busch Ad of the 1990s and come on, I could bet you anything Michael McDowell or Kelly Bires will replace Rowdy Crash,Cash, and Burn!

  10. steven Says:
    November 29th, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Why is everyone mad at Busch? Dids he punch a promoter in Australia?