Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus, was placed on probation until the end of the year by NASCAR after an incident with Jimmy Spencer following last weekend's Winston Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. Busch ...
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 97 Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus, was placed on probation until the end of the year by NASCAR after an incident with Jimmy Spencer following last weekend's Winston Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. Busch addressed the media prior to Friday morning's practice in the Bristol Motor Speedway infield media center to discuss last week's incident.
KURT BUSCH - No. 97 Sharpie/Rubbermaid Taurus
"First of all, I'd like to say that I love this race track. Not only does my sponsor, Sharpie, have the rights, but I got my first Winston Cup win here. For those of you that don't know the story, it came down to the last few laps with Jimmy Spencer and me last spring. Now it's Bristol and it's Jimmy and it's me, so things are pretty intense. I'm leading going into turn one and he gives me the bump and run - a veteran, rookie style pass, that's the way I accepted it. I'm a pretty quick learner, so we go another lap and I do it back and we go on to finish one and two. I'm really excited about it. It was a great race, really clean, and it's the kind of race that Bristol is all about. So I hate it that Jimmy is not here this weekend. He's a tough competitor just like I am, especially at this place. I hate it for the Spencer fans, for my fans, for both of our sponsors and teams that Jimmy and I finished the day that we did last Sunday. Those kinds of situations are not good for our sport and send the wrong kind of message about what kind of people we are. It's a shame for all of us this weekend that NASCAR was left with no choice but to impose the penalities it did and, as for my part, I'm sorry for anything I had to do with it.
"I'd like to say something about racing now because it's clear that not everyone knows what happens on the race track every week. There isn't a race that goes by where someone doesn't employ a racing tactic like Jimmy and I did to one another last week at Michigan. At a superspeedway, you might try to take the guy's air off his spoiler or loosen him up, or you might try to knock his fender in and make his car push. Just like a bump and run, it's part of racing.
"Let me ask you, the media, a question. I don't understand what the difference is with you guys when Spencer and I are racing or when you have a situation like I did last spring at Darlington with Ricky Craven. Nothing was publicized in a negative way. Or even when Johnny Benson and I were racing at Martinsville last fall, nothing was publicized in a negative way. We're all doing what we need to do. NASCAR Winston Cup competition is the toughest there is and there are 43 of us out there every week racing hard every lap at every track. It would be good to put this behind us and get back into the business of racing. The Sharpie 500 means a lot to me and a lot to the fans. It's the greatest race that we race all season long and I think it deserves the respect that it needs of your attention this weekend.
"That's my statement."
IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WOULD HAVE DONE DIFFERENTLY IN THE MINUTES THAT HAPPENED AFTER THE RACE LAST WEEK? DO YOU FEEL THAT ANY OF YOUR ACTIONS COULD HAVE BEEN DONE DIFFERENTLY TO DIFFUSE THAT SITUATION?
"I felt as if last weekend the whole circumstance evolved around me running out of fuel - that was on the race track and then again it happened in the pit area after the race. If I could have done anything different, it would have been to stop out on pit road, but I never even thought there was going to be an altercation that would have come out of it."
THERE ARE A COLLECTION OF FOLKS WHO FELT YOU COULD HAVE USED A LITTLE ATTITUDE ADJUSTMENT.
"That's their prerogative and I guess you have to consider the source on where that is actually coming from. I'm a competitor that races hard each and every lap - one that goes to the front - and with my past history on the race track, I think I've proved my loyalty with 43 drivers out there that I can be one that's trusted out on the race track."
HAVE YOU HAD ANY CONTACT WITH SPENCER AND, IF NOT, WHAT MESSAGE WOULD YOU SEND HIM NOW?
"I haven't had any contact with him. There are probably things that need to be stated, but I have never intentionally tried to hurt Jimmy Spencer or any other competitor for that matter. It's an unwritten rule amongst the drivers to never overstep that boundary. It's one thing to bump a guy out of the way for the lead, but you never try to purposely hurt anybody. I have never tried to purposely or intentionally hurt Jimmy Spencer."
DID YOUR TEAM MAKE YOU AWARE THAT JIMMY WAS UPSET DURING THE RACE?
"No idea. My team never mentioned a word. What happened on the race track, there was no means for the actions that happened after the race."
DID YOU TRY TO FLATTEN ANYONE ELSE'S FENDER THAT DAY?
"No I didn't. There are things that drivers do to gain a competitive advantage against one another. Whether it's taking the air off their spoiler or whether it's trying to flatten somebody's fender, it's just the same as the bump and run at a short track. There are things you do to try to gain a competitive advantage on the race track and that's a classic way to try and gain a competitive advantage."
WHERE DO THINGS STAND WITH THE LEGAL PROCESS?
"We finished with our police report there. It's up to the DA's office and the prosecutors to make their decision, so we've left it with them."
WHAT'S IT BEEN LIKE TO DEAL WITH THIS?
"You guys have had to make me deal with this since Bristol last spring. On the way it's been lopsided since the beginning of it and I've put it behind me. Everything has been misconstrued about the two of us and it still continues, so, again, I'm looking to put a period on the end of it."
WAS WHAT YOU TRIED TO DO TO JIMMY AT MICHIGAN (FLATTENING HIS FENDER) POTENTIALLY AS BAD AS WHAT HE DID TO YOU AT INDIANAPOLIS LAST YEAR?
HAS ANYONE GIVEN YOU WORDS OF SUPPORT?
"It's difficult to mention names at a time like this, but there has been some veteran support outside of my Roush Racing camp that have lended some advice and support to me and it's boosted my confidence to know that there are people on my side and that this can go away."
ARE YOU PLANNING TO HAVE RECONSTRUCTIVE SURGERY?
"No, we're not. Not at this time. It's too difficult to tell. It's too early. My doctor said that I have swelling in my nose. It's too difficult to know if the bone is chipped, so we have to be re-evaluated in three months, so that is my physical condition. I appreciate all of your questions."