Reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch has been relieved of his driving duties for the remainder of the 2005 season. Busch was detained by the Maricopa Country Sheriffs Department Friday night on suspicion of drunk driving. Busch...
Reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch has been relieved of his driving duties for the remainder of the 2005 season. Busch was detained by the Maricopa Country Sheriffs Department Friday night on suspicion of drunk driving. Busch was stopped Friday night after running a stop sign and going 60 mph in a 45 mph zone near the Phoenix International Raceway.
Busch was taken into custody after becoming belligerent with a local deputy when he refused to take the first required sobriety test at the scene. The deputy informed his superiors that he smelled alcohol. Busch finally did submit to a field breathalyzer test which did denote the presence of alcohol; however, a second test at the PIR station malfunctioned.
"As a result of the roadside investigation, the deputy did take Mr. Busch into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol," said Paul Chagolla, the Maricopa County Sheriff's spokesman.
Busch was cited for reckless driving and released. Jack Roush, owner of the No. 97 Ford stated on Saturday that he would not take any action against Busch.
"I don't plan to take any action myself," said Roush. "I'm not looking down the road with Kurt, based on the fact that he has his release and he'll be doing something else next season. He'll be under new management and new oversight next year and I'll just stand aside and watch and see how that works out for him."
Busch is set to leave Roush Racing at the end of the season to drive the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge at Penske Racing.
Roush changed his mind on race day morning due to pressure from sponsors. "I got information back as the reaction the public was having and an impression back from the sponsors - not one of the sponsors but all of the sponsors - that they felt I was in breach of my contract by allowing that notoriety and that embarrassment to be out there without taking action," explained Roush.
"The only action I felt that would be appropriate and the one that was agreed upon was to go on and suspend him for the balance of the season," continued Roush. "What I'm saying is that they felt the embarrassment. I realized they were being embarrassed to an extent that I didn't realize when I spoke yesterday. The language was made clear to me on what my obligation was for these remaining two races, which wasn't clear in my mind as I made my comments off-the-cuff yesterday."
The suspicion of alcohol charge apparently will not be a problem for Busch's new 2006 sponsor. Don Miller from Penske Racing stated that this incident would not affect Busch's future with that organization. Representatives from Miller Brewing Company were not immediately available for comment.
Reports that NASCAR brought Busch into the hauler to talk over the incident with Mike Helton have been noted, but NASCAR's official position on Saturday was 'that it was just a traffic ticket'.
Kenny Wallace will pilot the No. 97 Ford this weekend at Phoenix and Todd Kleuver has been named to drive in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
"First of all, I'm shocked," said Wallace. "I was doing the Speed Channel show and everybody knows that I run the NASCAR Busch Series. I ran 14th yesterday and I've got over 300 Cup starts.
"Jack Roush has always been a friend of mine throughout my whole career and he just called me up and said, 'Hey, can you drive the 97 car?' Once I got my composure I was like, 'Yeah, no problem.' But I feel bad for everybody in this whole situation. I'm a professional and we're just gonna go out there and race. There's nothing like starting a race cold turkey, but we've done it a lot and we'll be OK."