NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Kurt Busch is not new to controversy
Kurt Busch’s career has been quite a rollercoaster from time to time. He’s managed to intermingle outbursts with wins, controversy with a championship.
At the beginning of his career he was viewed as a hothead with talent, a driver capable to striking at any time but one that had issues maintaining a calm demeanor. He worked to overcome both that attitude and image after joining Penske Racing, but this year has been rough on both the driver and those around him. Last week in Las Vegas, Busch admitted that he is seeing a sports psychologist to work on "personal issues."
Here’s a look at the timetable of some of Busch’s most noteworthy confrontations and outbursts through the years.
In 2003, Busch famously tangled with Jimmy Spencer. After a series of on-track confrontations, Spencer climbs from his car at Michigan International Speedway and confronts Busch in his. Spencer reportedly punches the driver. He is suspended for a race and both drivers receive probation.
In 2005, a year after handing team owner Jack Roush his first NASCAR Cup title, Busch has a run-in with the Phoenix area police and is cited for reckless driving. Roush Fenway Racing suspends the driver for the final two races of the season and severs its relationship with him. "It's the last straw for Roush Racing," Geoff Smith, president of Roush Racing, was widely quoted as saying. "We're officially retiring as Kurt Busch's apologists effective [today].”
In 2011, frustration must have mounted for Busch, because the number of and timing of incidents ramped up considerably. He gained much attention for a radio rant against his own team in the May race at Richmond International Raceway. It would turn out to be a far from isolated event as fans – both at home and listening to scanners in the stands – listened to his diatribes from time to time throughout the remainder of the season.
At Richmond again, this time in September, Busch erupted. He confronted a media member over an interview question. He denied making a televised remark when asked about it. He ripped up a media member’s paper, a move caught on camera in a live streaming feed during post-race comments.
At Homestead-Miami Speedway, Busch was once more unsuspectingly caught on camera. Twice. First his in-car camera captured a hand gesture, then a fan caught him cursing at a television reporter waiting for an interview. That clip was posted on YouTube and led to apologies from Penske Racing and Busch himself, a statement from the team sponsor and, in combination with the earlier confrontation with reporters, a $50,000 fine from NASCAR.