Kurt Busch addressed the media today, just hours after being reinstated for competition by NASCAR.
“It means the world to me to be back in the car,” said the Stewart Haas Racing driver. “It's been a tough situation the last few months, and I've gone through this with confidence, knowing that I know the truth and that I never did any of the things that I was accused of. It was a complete fabrication.
“It's unfortunate that my personal life crossed over and affected my business life, but I can't wait to get to the track, see my team, shake their hands and say `Thanks for the support’ and go out there and make my first lap this weekend.”
Busch declined to comment specifically on a possible appeal of the no-contact order issued last month by the Kent County (Del.) Family Court, saying, “What's happened so far in court, there's been no winners. Everybody has lost. I have my attorneys handling the pending appeals, and I'll leave that to them.
“My focus is with the race team; Gene Haas and everybody at Haas Automation to get our Chevy into Victory Lane and to continue moving forward.
Busch said that while he understood NASCAR’s decision to suspend him, he was surprised by the timing.
“This is a very serious issue,” he admitted. “(But) the way NASCAR reacted was different than what we had been told all along. They were more focused on the criminal side, as were we, but the commissioner's ruling was not necessarily… the important factor.
“The important factor is that what I was accused of was a complete fabrication. I never wavered through this whole process, because of (my) confidence in the truth. I had support from Gene Haas and everybody at SHR, and that's where my focus has been. It's been on the racing side of it, and I never lost that confidence and drive.
“It's a humbling experience, but it's made me more focused and determined.
Busch also commented on the Road to Recovery laid out for him by NASCAR, saying he is “appreciative of the process.
“It's a road map that they laid out that I am respecting,” he said. “It has created such a good foundation to utilize moving forward that I wish I would have done it sooner. The hardest part about all of this has been sitting out, watching the 41 car go around the racetrack, especially at the Daytona 500. Atlanta is one of my favorite tracks, and Las Vegas is my hometown track. It's been torture sitting out of the car.
“Being in that race car is a privilege,” said Busch. “It's a feeling that you can't describe when you go out there for practice each and every weekend. You drive down into the corner, the car sticks, you stand on the gas and drive out of the corner. It's an experience that not a lot of people get to (have), and I get a chance to race against the best in the world in NASCAR.
“Talking with (NASCAR CEO) Brian France, he told me, `Don't change. Don't be different in the car, but be a different person outside of the car.’ He said, `Go be yourself in that car. That's what we really love. We love Kurt Busch behind the wheel. Go out there, use that passion (and) go for those wins.’
“And that's my focus is; to be humble through this whole process (and) let actions speak louder than words.
Busch also revealed that when he returns to the race track this weekend, he will not have his distinctive “Outlaw” logo above the driver’s door.
“My reputation will iron itself out in whichever way (it does),” he said. “My focus is the race car, and as I move forward, I'm putting my signature above the door of the car. I'm proud to have my signature on the side of a car that Gene Haas (owns) and to carry his name into Victory Lane.
Despite starting his season this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway in a three-race hole, Busch said he remains confident in his team’s ability to qualify for the 2015 Chase For the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
“I’m working with the great group of people at Stewart‑Haas Racing,” he said. “Kevin Harvick is a winner already this year. He and Rodney Childers have gone above and beyond what we all expected them to do, and Tony Gibson has (our) team in place. We proved that at the end of last year with our (best) finishes of the year in those last three races.
“I hope to start off this year in that same pattern, and my start is a little late. It's Phoenix, so I'm looking forward to it. I believe I've got cars that are capable of winning races, and now I've just got to go out there and do my job.”