Busch/Spencer incident, more spin than Bristol

Jimmy Spencer deserved suspension for hitting Kurt Busch in the now infamous post race conflict at the Michigan International Speedway. Before all the facts were out, the Roush Racing PR machine was in full motion. Support of criminal ...

Jimmy Spencer deserved suspension for hitting Kurt Busch in the now infamous post race conflict at the Michigan International Speedway.

Before all the facts were out, the Roush Racing PR machine was in full motion.

Support of criminal charges, and complete denials that in no way was the young Roush driver in any way involved in the incident, other than it was his face that found Spencer's fist.

Medical updates, and statements were distributed including a release from Busch on Monday August eighteenth in which he admonished the media for characterizing his relationship with Spencer a feud.

" I have been concerned by media comments characterizing Jimmy's involvement with me as a "rivalry," "duel" or "fight" all which carry a connotation that I actively participate in this type of behavior, noted Busch.

What Busch failed to realize, was that most individuals who follow the sport understand that it is a cause and effect world. The public relations decision of portraying him as an oppressed victim just did not sit right with many observers.

As Spencer's fine and suspension were announced, along with Busch's probation, the Roush machine kicked it up again. Roush himself indicating that there were be an appeal, and that Kurt did nothing wrong.

"It is incomprehensible to me that NASCAR used this incident to place Kurt Busch on probation. His only involvement in the "altercation" was to be the recipient of a blow struck by an individual that is twice his size", said Roush.

Roush Racing President Geoff Smith called the probation prophylactic, and made it clear that Kurt would be exploring his civil options.

The attitude of the situation took an abrupt turn the following day, as race day communications between Busch and his team made it very clear that the driver who once referred to Spencer as a decrepit old has-been was far from innocent, and to use his own words "I just am no good at being bad"

The Roush machine put the spin on the tape, explaining it away as a racing incident, similar to pulling air off the spoiler.

Busch met with the Media prior to qualifying at Bristol and announced he would not appeal his probation.

" I hate it for Spencer's fans, for my fans, for both our sponsors and teams that Jimmy and I finished the day the way 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 penalties it did, and for my part, I'm sorry for any part in the whole thing that I had."

Busch was wrong when he originally said he was not actively involved in a rivalry with Spencer and correctly apologized.

He may not have acknowledged the ongoing feud, but in many eyes, the two have remained at war since Busch the 2001 Phoenix race.

It is a long-standing fact that the first casualty of war is the truth.

Kurt Busch and his portrayal as an incident victim in the situation did more damage to him that anything Spencer ever did.

Based on the overwhelming boos he received at driver introductions, and in victory lane at Bristol, it seems now that the race fans are the ones who will never forget.

-thomas chemris-

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jimmy Spencer , Kurt Busch