1 minute 32 seconds
That’s the amount of time Kurt Busch had to suffer while he stood with ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch waiting for a live interview in front of the Penske hauler after the Dodge’s driveshaft expired early in the final race of the NASCAR season in Homestead-Miami.
1 minute 32 seconds is also the amount of time it took Dr. Punch to finally give up after trying to ignore the driver’s rude and unprovoked outbursts, saying “nevermind” and walking away allowing Kurt to issue a sarcastic “thank you” before stomping back to the hauler. By doing so, Dr. Punch probably did him a favor, because who knows what would have been said live on-air.
Watch the video here: Interview video
By now, it’s obvious that Kurt Busch’s outburst was uncalled for and his team has taken the appropriate public relations actions to settle things down. Kurt also put out a statement, apologizing to NASCAR, fans, and especially to Dr. Jerry Punch. He knows only he is to blame for the words coming out of his mouth, not his team, not his crew chief, not the driveshaft. A fact he should remember before, not after, letting his rage get the better of him. Considering the consequences suffered by his younger brother after his own lapse of judgment earlier this month in Texas, you’d think Kurt might have kept his mouth shut for the minute and a half and done his duty as a driver to patiently wait for television (which, after all, pay a hefty sum to be there).
This video proved the Busch brothers may have been graced with great racing genes but are in desperate need of a therapist to keep those emotional slips from causing irreversible damage to their careers. Just moments before lashing out at Dr. Punch, the in-car camera in the No. 22 showed Kurt giving the one finger salute to the driver of an SUV that was slow getting out of the way in the garage area.
See it here: YouTubeVideo
To be fair, Kurt’s frustration is understandable when considering the way his Chase turned out. His crew chief, Steve Addington, ran him out of gas in both Texas and Phoenix before handing him a broken car in Miami. With a good race finish, the team could have come home 7th in the Chase, probably not the position they would have liked, but still something to aim for. Instead they finished 11th. This was the straw that broke the camel’s back, so to speak. Addington has since left Penske and is rumored to be joining Tony Stewart. This air of change may be just what Kurt needs to renew with a more positive energy next year.
However, no matter how bad the year, or race, or moment, there’s no excuse for practicing your four-letter words on a nice guy like Dr. Punch, who’s been doing this for nearly as long as Kurt’s been alive. Of course, drama and colorful exchanges has always been part of the sport. But violently crashing a championship contender (Kyle with Ron Hornaday in the Truck race in Texas) and cussing out an innocent bystander, and respected member of the media, goes beyond simple entertainment. NASCAR’s only comment regarding the situation is that they are disappointed for his choice of language. Without consequences, these things will continue to happen. And before you ask, yes public figures and sports celebrities are held to a slightly different standard. Comes with the territory.
Both brothers have shown a clear lack of respect for the sport and specifically for NASCAR, which ultimately made them the stars they are today. It can only be hoped that they use the off-season to calm down and tackle 2012 with a new attitude. While it’s possible Kyle was spooked enough with the $50,000 fine and 2-race benching, not to mention Mars, Inc’s message to Joe Gibbs Racing when they refused to sponsor the car for the last two races of the season, it’s not so sure that Kurt has learned from this episode. Only time will tell.
In the mean time someone ask Santa to stuff the Busch household stockings with bottles of Prozac.