By admin | June 25, 2012
By Richard Allen
Without much doubt, Kurt Busch turned in his best on track performance of the 2012 Sprint Cup season on Sunday in Sonoma, California. And without much doubt, the often controversial driver turned in one of his best post-race performances on Sunday as well.
Busch was among the front runners on the challenging road course throughout much of the day on his way to a season high 3rd place finish. It was only his second top-10 while driving for the James Finch owned Phoenix Racing organization.
After having only poor runs and a number of crashed cars to show for his efforts earlier in the season, Busch allowed his emotions to boil over on a couple of occasions recently. A post-race pit road fracas between his team and that of Ryan Newman was followed just days later by a threat against The Sporting News reporter Bob Pockrass. For those instances, Busch was put on probation and eventually suspended by NASCAR from the race in Pocono.
That was followed by another run-in with a media member in Michigan after barely having returned from his suspension. On that occasion, it was ESPN’s Marty Smith who felt Busch’s wrath even though Smith has often been accused by his readers as being overly favorable toward the 2004 Sprint Cup champion.
After Sunday’s race, it was as if a pressure release valve had been opened on Busch. Immediately after taking the checkered flag, the driver radioed his crew and thanked them for their efforts on his behalf.
“I’m all choked up,” Busch said over the team radio with obvious emotion in his voice.
“We love you like family, Kurt,” declared one of the team members in response.
Busch’s talent has never been questioned and his driving certainly got the attention of fellow competitor Tony Stewart after the 51 car had suffered a broken rear suspension piece late in the going. “I was watching him, and it was, honestly, I don’t know how he kept it on the race track with how much the rear end was moving around on that car,” Stewart said. “I thought he did a really phenomenal job of just hanging on to what he had.”
But it was in the moments after the race when Busch got the attention of race winner Clint Bowyer. “For him to come to Victory Lane spoke volumes about his character,” Bowyer declared. “He’s a champion of the sport. You can’t lose sight of that. I know there have been a lot of negatives around him, but there were a hell of a lot of positives today for Kurt Busch.”
This writer enjoys it when drivers such as Busch, Stewart and Brad Keselowski among others dare to break from the vanilla sounding mold and speak their minds. It has been when Busch has crossed the line into vulgarity and threats when I have criticized him. But on Sunday, Kurt Busch was sincerely emotional without being vulgar. It was a better side of him to see.
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