Monday, October 08, 2012

COMMENTARY: Kurt Busch Had A Good Day

Busch spun while leading Sunday
Despite a crash while leading and a subsequent disciplinary parking by NASCAR, Kurt Busch had a good day Sunday. 

Running his final race for James Finch’s Phoenix Racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, Busch surged forward from his 29th-place starting spot to take the lead. On lap 99, however, Busch’s Chevrolet unexpectedly sputtered out of fuel as he exited Turn Two. He was collected by runner-up Jamie McMurray and spun trunk-first into the inside wall, doing severe damage to his car. A second, lighter blow damaged the front end of his mount, and left it steaming on the track apron.
As the caution flag flew, Busch asked spotter Steve Barkdoll, “"I am out of fuel and I got wrecked. Why am I out of gas?" Safety workers quickly arrived on the scene and Busch climbed from the car, waving to the fans while taking a mental inventory of the wreckage. All four tires were up, he discovered. And most of the damage – while severe -- was cosmetic in nature. Like Dale Earnhardt, Sr. did after flipping his mount in the 1997 Daytona 500, Busch began thinking, “I can still drive this thing.”

He quickly slid back behind the wheel, dropping the car out of gear and punching the starter button. Surprisingly, the engine roared back to life. Now fully focused on returning to competition, Busch drove away from the scene, leaving a number of befuddled EMTs in his wake and tossing one of their equipment bags from the roof of his car as he drove away.

Almost immediately, Busch’s car began littering the backstretch apron with debris. NASCAR immediately ordered him to stop, but he heard nothing, having removed his helmet in preparation for a mandatory post-crash ambulance ride to the infield Medical Center. Busch eventually made his way back to the garage, only to discover that NASCAR officials had ordered his No. 51 Chevrolet parked for the remainder of the day. 

Cool, calm and collected.
A swarm of media members quickly descended on his garage stall, ready to chronicle the latest in a series of Busch-related controversies. This time, however, there was no snit. No profanity, no insults, no bleep-filled Sports Center sound bites. Just a cool, calm Kurt Busch, explaining in measured terms how his promising day had gone so horribly awry. 

"This is the way my life works,” said Busch. “Today is a perfect example. 

“I am leading, I wreck and I run out of gas. I try to get back in the race, and now NASCAR is yelling at me because I don't have my helmet on. I'm trying to get to the garage so the guys can work on (the car), and now I'm in trouble. 

“This is my life. I'm not complaining; I put myself in a lot of these situations."

"I guess they were telling me to stop,” he admitted. “That is the competitor (in me). That is the desire I have to stay in the race and to keep going. I got out of the car, I kept going and saw the car would roll and it didn't have flat tires.

"I was hoping to get the car back to the garage to work on it and get back in this race. NASCAR was yelling at me to stop, I didn't have my helmet on and I was in worse trouble. Now I have a storm of media around me and I don't know what to say, or what to do next."

Busch said -- and did -- all the right things Sunday, and his honest, controlled reaction to adversity gives hope to those who believe it’s not too late for him to salvage his NASCAR career. Busch claims to have learned a lot from the trials of the last 12 months.

Sunday, he proved it.
Photos: John Harrelson/Getty Images, Sean Gardner/Getty Images


  1. Anonymous11:34 AM

    Hey Moody, I think Kurt hacked you're webisite because only he thinkds he has changed the last 12 months

    1. Anonymous7:08 PM


  2. I think Kurt is the one of the most talented drivers in NASCAR. But with advent of being political correct, you can no longer tell it like it is. Everyone wants you to hold the corporate line. Speak gracious in defeat and not brag if you win. The days of speaking your mind are gone. So is NASCAR. What drew the fans to the sport. The so called "rednecks" are gone. NASCAR says there are for all fans. Just the people who spend the money are now gone. What are you left with. No one. The "rednecks" are gone. The rich people are gone. NASCAR has turned it's back on the fans. The day of NASCAR is now over. Congrats to NASCAR, you got what you wanted a Kurt Busch robot.

  3. I missed this part of the race. Nicely written. Based on everything else I heard, this is not what I thought had happened - I expected what has become typical Kurt reaction, glad to hear it wasn't.

  4. He can't catch a break. Leaping before looking. I hope NASCAR doesn't drop the hammer on him, but he is on double secret blind probation already this year.

  5. I was blown away. When the guys were saying they want you to stop, over and over, I thought this was going to be another scene.

    I'm sure the boys at Furniture Row were sweating pretty good for a minute there. I assumed Kurt would fly off the handle, and be suspended for his first race with the new team. I was pleasantly surprised to see him finally handle a situation instead of the other way around.

  6. I hope Kurt understands that by conducting himself like he did yesterday keeps the story from expanding. If the story doesn't expand it goes away. Small incidents don't turn into BIG incidents.

    Life is easier.

    Good luck to Kurt. He is a true competitor who looks like he may have just beat his biggest foe....himself.


  7. Scott2:06 PM

    More to this thans being said. emt would back away when he fired engine, he was being told BEFORE he fired car not to drive it back.

  8. I agree he handled his post-race interview well; however his behavior on the track with the safety crew around was inexcusable.

    The a couple of big difference between what Busch did and what Earnhardt did was remove the helmet, and take off with emergency equipment and personnel around the car.

    I’d like to know how Busch thought he was going to race again without a helmet on and a bent rear clip?

    The “competitor in me” is a pretty week excuse for jeopardizing the safety of emergency personnel.

    1. Anonymous12:18 PM

      He wasn't going to race without a helmet... just drive back to the garage for repairs.

  9. Earnhardt had his helmet off and was IN THE AMBULANCE when he realized the car was salvageable! His car was also surrounded by safety personnel when he fired up and drove away, and the whole place stood and cheered! What's the difference?

    1. Anonymous5:24 PM

      He also told the workers to get away, and the workers were the ones who started the car. The difference is they had a warning.

  10. The last name Moody. It's alot like how we cheer what we saw in 1979 at Daytona with Allison and Cale but when Jeff Burton gets shoved by Jeff Gordon we have to make a controversy out of it.

    It's the double standard of the mega-politically correct NASCAR. If that was Dale Jr, I think it might get cheered too. Kurt wears a black hat and most fans do not like him. Therefore any small thing he does gets blown out of proportion.

    Loved how he handled things yesterday and how he left that team hugging every single person there. It would be interesting to hear real stories from people on that team about how they felt about having Kurt drive their car this year.

    Good job also by Kurt not making himself look worse. Shame he ran out of gas because he would have been fun to watch at the end.

  11. I agree 100% Dave ! Thank you !

  12. The third wheel5:34 PM

    Excellent story Dave. Kurt handled himself like a champ! I saw him hugging his guys with tears in his eyes. You can see the love they have for each other. I was worried when I saw the swarm of cameras especially Bob Pockrass trying to stir stuff up. I was blown away by how he handled everything yesterday. One day at a time but this was a huge step forward in my mind.

  13. Anonymous6:46 PM

    If Stewart would have done that everyone would be laughing it off like it was nothing.

  14. Phil788:11 PM

    Thanks Dave.. It is nice to see that someone in the media can give a true opinion on Kurt. I can't stand that everyone has to take a shot him no matter if he is doing good or bad. I really think that he has turned the corner and I can not wait for the day when he is in victory lane again.

  15. Anonymous12:25 AM

    how did he drive the car back if it was out of gas?

  16. Anonymous3:51 AM

    Funny, I posted the following on another site before reading this article. We said nearly the same thing. Sad that so many are hanging Kurt Busch every time something happens solely because of what happened in the past. Looking at this incident for what it was and not taking into account his past, this was no big deal and if it were any other driver that had done it, not a word would have been said about it today.

    Give me a break. I'm far from a Kurt Busch fan, but MANY, MANY, MANY drivers have gotten out of their cars and realized they aren't as bad as they thought and jumped back in and took off, yes while the safety crew was already there. I give them credit, they get there VERY quickly, they are almost always there before a driver gets out of the car. He was calm on the radio when he asked his crew "why did we run out of gas", so he wasn't in a rage. He was just trying to get it back to the pits. And you can blame him all you want, but I would think common sense should have told the safety crew that "Hey, driver's getting back in the car, hey, car starts up! Duh, I wonder what that means??????? It means, he's leaving!!!!!! BACK AWAY. Hell Dale Earnhardt got back into his car after flipping it at Daytona and drove back to the pits and finished the race. What did the safety crew do, they got the heck out of his way. And Busch didn't speed recklessly back to the pits or out of control with flat tires as he would have done if he were pissed off. He slowly worked his way back to pit road. Of course he couldn't hear Nascar without his helmet on. I'll be the first to say Kurt has gotten himself into much trouble this year, but you can't hang a guy every time just because of what he did in the past. He did nothing wrong here. it's not his fault the safety guy put his bag on top of the car. Kurt was being a race car driver and doing all he could to get back in the race and this wouldn't have remotely been an issue if it were any other driver that had done it, that doesn't have Kurt's history. If Nascar suspends him, it's solely out of spite and uncalled for in this particular case. This is a very clear and easy NO CALL.

  17. Anonymous7:17 AM

    Nice column Dave. Thanks.

    I listened to you yesterday and your account of what took place. Thanks for the honesty and not putting any negative spin on it.

    Congrats to Kurt for handling it well.

  18. Anonymous8:45 AM

    "This is the way my life works". Sorry, but I don't see it's working all that well. "I try and get back in the car and NASCAR yells at me....That's the competitor in me." You see, Kurt, it's your inability to stop and think about how your actions will impact those around you that has been getting you in trouble for years. Your emotions leave you driving under the influence of stupidity and arrogance. Things you never stop to think about: do your words effect your team? Will your action endanger safety crews, one with his arm still inside your car? Will you litter the track with debris, impacting the race and potentially leaving damaging pieces for your fellow competitors to run over. Might you endanger yourself without a helmet, and do you remember you're under probation? Seemingly you care nothing about all those things and you file it all all under "that's the competitor in me" somehow thinking the ends just might justify the means.

    Meanwhile, your apologists will childishly point their fingers at someone else to blame and drag up decades old examples of someone else's bad behavior in a lame excuse to defend you. And it always comes off sounding like "But Bobby's mom let him get away with it!"

    Not all of us have amnesia. The Kurt Busch "Incident Dossier" buldges larger every year and pretty soon it's not gas you're going to run out of, but something far more important. NASCAR's patience and leniency.

  19. Want more difference:

    1) Safety personnel still had their equipment all over the car in the Busch situation.

    2) Busch is on probation, Earnhardt wasn't, anyone on probation should be held to a higher standard.

    Anyone who thinks the Earnhardt and Busch situations are the same didn't see the equipment go flying and people still hanging on the car when Busch pulled away.

    ...and the rear clip was clearly bent on the Busch car.

    1. Anonymous7:59 AM

      Andy, perhaps you should go back and listen to Moody's eyewitness account of what happened.

      It was nothing like you describe.

  20. Greg S.11:28 AM

    Great story Dave, great come back about Dale sr. One thing is for sure Kurt keeps it interesting ......

  21. Anonymous12:16 PM

    I hope Kurt does not get penalized for anything he did on Sunday. In my eyes- he did nothing wrong. Now I know everyone has a difference of opinion as to what constitutes a safety hazard- whether it be on the track, during a caution, or after a race. In my opinion, what Jimmy Johnson did after the race by hitching a ride on Dale Jr.'s car was far more dangerous than what Kurt did. Don't get me wrong- I do not feel that Jimmy or Jr. should be penalized in any way. But riding on a car with one leg through the window, helmet on or not, put Jimmy at more of a risk than any of the safety crew members were when Kurt pulled away. If NASCAR drops the hammer on Kurt- maybe they should look at all of the other things NASCAR tends to overlook in the name of puting on a good show. Keep up the great work, Moody!

    1. Anonymous3:33 PM

      Jimmy should get penalized because after being involved in an accident where you can not drive back to the pits you are supposed to get in the ambelance and go to the infield care center and he clearly did not do that. I am not sure how many other drivers did but I doubt they had 25 ambelances.

  22. Anonymous2:53 PM

    Gotta think a basic $ fine should do it ...Gotta wear the helmut so they can comunicate at least...Really nothing to see here ..move along ..Earner

  23. Anonymous4:37 PM

    So a different driver after the big one climbs onto the side of another drivers car for a ride back to the garage and no one thinks that is an unsafe practice? If that was Kurt on the side of the 88 some writters and maybe even Nascar would of made a story of it.

  24. Anonymous5:13 PM

    Hey---If Nascar does any more than a very small fine to Kurt they have lost another 40 year fan. I have been going to races before there were crowds. Nascar needs some drivers to speak there mind not just the the ones that hold hands and sing Kumbaya. No wonder there is so many empty seats every race. I love racing but this is getting close to the end for me. I even moved to NC and went to work for my all time hero Richard Petty for seven years so I feel I understand racing and racers. Kurt is a racer.