Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Penske's Attempt To Distance Falls Short

Penske Racing commented today on the actions of driver Kurt Busch toward ESPN pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch Sunday at Homestead Miami Speedway. Angry with a delay in being put on the air, Busch lobbed multiple obscenities at Punch until the veteran reporter eventually reached the breaking point and walked away, before Busch’s interview could be conducted.

"Penske Racing extends its apologies to Dr. Jerry Punch, our media partners and our sponsors and fans for Kurt Busch's inappropriate actions in Homestead on Sunday,” said a statement from the team. “These actions do not represent Penske Racing and are inconsistent with the company's standards for behavior, respect for others and professionalism. This matter is being reviewed internally with no further comment at this time."

That statement is, in two words, horse manure.

Kurt Busch absolutely does represent Penske Racing, its sponsors and employees. The uniform he wore Sunday included the Penske Racing logo. He drove the #22 Penske Racing Dodge – albeit briefly – and made numerous appearances on behalf of the team and its sponsors throughout Ford Championship Weekend. Roger Penske hired Busch, not long after Jack Roush terminated him in the aftermath of a similar outburst of boorish behavior. Penske has maintained Busch in his employ, despite periodic bouts of unpleasantness, public criticism of his own team, and comments about team management (including Penske) that in the minds of many bordered on outright mutiny. None of those outbursts elicited any sort of public sanction from the team; other than Tuesday’s semi-indignant press release.

Sorry, Mr. Penske, but you can’t have it both ways. You cannot embrace Kurt Busch as your driver and corporate spokesman for the last six seasons, then conveniently disavow the relationship on the day he he shows his ass to the world. Your failure to sanction Busch for prior bouts of boorishness have sent a consistently poor message, both to him and the sport as a whole. Tuesday’s attempt at hand-washing is just another brick in that wall.

In an effort to determine how it could – and should – be done, compare Busch’s deportment Sunday to that of fellow Sprint Cup Series driver Carl Edwards. Busch exploded like a petulant teenager over a simple, blown transmission. Mechanical failures are an unfortunate -- but not uncommon – part of the sport, and most drivers treat them as such. Hours later, Edwards conducted himself as a gentleman in the aftermath of the most crushing defeat of his racing career, if not his life. There was nothing gentlemanly about Busch’s display, and the only thing adult was his language.

It’s time for Penske Racing to stop sheltering Kurt Busch from his own actions. Jack Roush taught Busch a valuable lesson in late 2005, yanking him from behind the wheel with two races remaining and handing him a pink slip. Busch learned that day that nobody is bigger than the sport, and that even extreme driving talent is not enough to counteract a repeated lack of class, civility and compassion. After six years, that lesson has apparently been forgotten.

Perhaps it’s time for a refresher.


  1. Amen Dave! Couldnt have said any of that any better. Jack Roush looks smarter every time Busch speaks.

  2. Anonymous5:25 PM

    Well said and on the money. Jeesh!!

  3. Anonymous5:30 PM

    Very well said and as always factually based. Thank you for taking a stand for common decency whether it be driver behavior or fan behavior this week. NASCAR is a proud tradition and sport. It's time the nuts quit running the asylum and the owners take back control of thier name and legacy.

  4. I believe Kurt busch signed the contract early on in 05 to race with penske starting 06, the termination you are referring to happened in November 05. Not a fan of Kurt at all but don't make it seem like jack fired the guy, Kurt was an idiot and chose to leave and in turn I'm sure jacks patience wore thin with kurt being an ass about everything

  5. His termination occurred cause of insubordination with sheriffs in Arizona. And u can't blame jack for going kurt his early pink slip hope roger will follow suit

  6. Rev RedBeard5:35 PM

    Agree Dave, I'm so glad Brad took his place in the blue deuce before he tarnished that legacy beyond repair.

  7. Anonymous5:41 PM

    With so many undeserved pink slips being handed out to a lot of good racers it's hard to understand Penske's patience.

  8. Mountiemagnet5:41 PM

    Although I agree, Penske did say the actions not the driver, do not represent.
    Hello Roger????
    Rudy ! Rudy ! Rudy!

  9. My post sounds confusing but jack didn't fire.him before hr signed somewhere else

  10. Jack fired him with two races left in the season for "vituperative abusiveness" to law enforcement officials in Arizona. Look it up.

  11. The Penske statement is true if he's already fired Kurt

  12. tim from ala.5:51 PM

    some have said or at least tried to compare our sport to other por sports hers my take on it i have quit watching other sports because of the lack of respect the athlets display nascar is all i have left sunday's r my day with my grandkids my 2yr old sitts in my lap with his m&m car in hand my 3yr old granddaughter on the other knee saying go jr. go how can i teach them the proper way to act in puplic if im allowing them to grow up having heros that act and talk the way they r

  13. Anonymous5:51 PM

    I agree dave i think roger going to do the right think, i hope.

  14. Scott5:55 PM

    Wouldn't it be great if Roger Penske and Joe Gibbs fired both their drivers at the same press conference? Let these two boys go out and get their own funding.

  15. Anonymous6:02 PM

    this wasn't on air anyways. so the only way your grandkids were affected is if you told them. Moody you need to get off your high horse

  16. Alex Patton6:07 PM

    Right on Moody. What an embarrassment to the sport. You have guys out there like Carl and Reutimann that are complete class acts regardless of the situation. Then you have these spoiled brats like Kurt and Kyle. However it is not their fault. It is their parents for apparently sparing the rod and spoiling the child. I would never disrespect my parents by acting like that in public. I say fire them both. IT is time to end this.

  17. To the Anonymous poster who thinks it's not a big deal because, "this wasn't on air anyways," I guess it's OK to act like a boob, as long as its not on TV?

  18. Anonymous6:18 PM

    I, for one, am tired of hearing apologies from both Busch brothers. There has to come a time when they have to realize that making a boneheaded action and then just apologizing afterwards does not suddenly make it right. We've seen this from both of them, over and over and over and over...

    Well, I've stopped accepting apologies. In my way of saying "sorry, I don't accept any more of your apologies", as a person in charge of ordering parts and supplies for a very small business in the realm of businesses, I will be changing my oil supplier from Pennsoil, and my battery supplier to someone other than Interstate. My business alone will not have any affect on their business, but I hope my integrity will.

  19. If you are gonna tell Moody to get off his high horse at least use your name. Dave, you are right on. In the real world this kind of behavior would not be tolerated by an employer, it shouldn't be tolerated in NASCAR either.

  20. I do remember and wasn't it kenny wallace for those two races

  21. Anonymous6:40 PM

    I agree with you Dave there are alot of mediocre drivers that remained in the sport because they had great attitude, great professionalism, and handled themselves respectably. Kurt Busch has been nothing more than a whining cry baby for the last several years and in my opinion even with his skill on the track is a disgrace to the sport and the team he is associated with. Thank you!

  22. Anonymous6:44 PM

    What would happen to the rear tire changer if he/she botched a pit stop and treated media like that? Don't answer that i'll tell you. "they would be pursuing other career opportunities".

    Like in every occupation there is always someone just as good waiting to take your place.

  23. I agree with you Penske statement is hogwash! If you still employee his arrogant behind. Kenny Wallace is a great person that anyone would be proud to call a friend. Dr. Jerry Punch lives in knoxville, TN now and is on our local sports show each week. Have never heard Dr. Punch say anything out of the way about anyone or anyone say anything bad about him. I got to meet him at charlotte in october briefly he is a class act! My grandfather taught me 1. Never defend the indefensible. 2. refer to number 1. 3. evaluate, adapt and overcome. Ron White taught me You can't fix stupid! Great job Dave and Angie have a Blessed Thanksgiving!

  24. Anonymous6:50 PM

    Mr Busch's actions are inappropriate at best. Dr. Punch was
    doing his job. I hope the Kurt and Kyle's parents knock their heads together at the Thanksgiving table. if he talked to a reporter that way, imagine how he must have talked to Eva, his soon to be ex-wife. Poor thing. Kurt will learn one day. I hope it isn't too late for him then.

  25. Anonymous7:00 PM

    Some People never get it, Kurt, Roger just to name a couple. Maybe he should talk to his brother, I bet he has a whole new outlook on how to act!

  26. David Alexander7:01 PM

    Dave, I agree with you 100%. if Roger had any class he would send him packing, there are too many good drivers out there without attitude.

  27. Anonymous7:26 PM

    Kurt Busch is a classless piece of garbage. I wish they would give the 22 ride to someone who deserves it like David Reutimann. David is exactly the type of person who can represent the sport the way we would all like to see it represented....with class, grace and a good attitude no matter what the situation.

  28. Anonymous7:33 PM

    It has always astounded me that Penske hired Kurt Busch. But it is amazing to me that he has continued to tolerate Busch's abusive attitude for 5 years. He has gone through two chanpionship caliber crew chiefs, and has been directly responsible for lousy morale that adversely affects results.

    I am convinced both Busch brothers will never change unless they get professional help, and keep getting it until they dig out the root cause of their issues. There has to be a reason why both of these otherwise talented jokers see it as OK to verbally abuse other people.

    They need to get this done before somebody with a bigger punch than Jimmy Spencer takes care of business. Or they get themselves yet again set loose from a top tier team.

  29. Anonymous7:43 PM

    I'm sure his ex-wife will take him to the cleaners in the divorce anyway but now she can take this video to court and say, HEY, this is nothing compared to the abuse I put up with !!

  30. Anonymous9:04 PM

    Let's cut to the real facts. Both Busch brothers are pompass assholes with no respect for others, themselves or more importantly the sport we all love. I can believe either one of them will have any sponsors come 2012.

  31. Brendan in NJ10:07 PM

    In his "apology" there are not even the words I'm sorry. 2 small word can go a long way. In the heat of a race, yeah, you can regret, hate that it happened, or extend an apology if you knocked out a fellow racer or caused a big wreck, chalk it up to hard, maybe not smart, but hard racing and move on. For inexcusable behavior, you should be sorry. Hopefully his personal apologies to those involved were more sincere than the PR staements released.

  32. Sandeep10:15 PM

    I am just amazed at how people at such high levels in their careers can be such grade A jerks.

  33. Well-said Dave! I've been amazed that Kurt has kept his job as long as he has with his outbursts and "mutiny-esque" behavior. If I went nuts and started swearing and berating my co-workers and supervisor, I'd be shown the door. That's obviously not the case at Penske Racing.

  34. With the current economy and high dollar sponsorships few and far between behavior like this will not be tolerated anymore there are to many quality drivers who play by the rules looking for sponsors and rides time to send kurt packing!

  35. Anonymous11:13 PM

    I'm sure Shell-Pennzoil is very happy now after they left a sponsor friendly Kevin Harvick to team up with this train wreck. Karma is a bitch, and Budweiser is the beneficiary.

  36. While we don't know how these Busch "men" grew up, they certainly learned this behavior somewhere. They have this attitude that they deserve everything and everyone owes them. I can only hope and pray their respective car owners do some heavy soul searching and grow a collective pair and fire both their butts they have been showing to the NASCAR world for far too long.

    Dave, I agree 100% with you. The problem lies directly at the feet of their car owners and they must deal with them. Talent can only take them so far in this sport. They need the sport more than the sport needs them. Their apologies are so frequent, that they ring hollow and by now we fas can spot a p/r snow job a mile away.

    I believe the media and ESPN's reaction should be not to go after or agree to one word from Kurt. I can imagine how bad the p/r rep would be begging the lowly home town papers in the Nascar markets to interview them.

    To Roger Penske and Joe Gibbs...if you dance with the devil you WILL get burned.

    Happy Thanksgiving Dave and your radio co-hort Angie and your families!

  37. Anonymous11:27 PM

    You nailed it! Dave I just love how you say it like it is. Keep up the awesome work!

  38. Penske should let Kurt go. He already took him out of the premiere ride for Kes --- I think Kurt's still not totally happy about that turn of events. There are plenty of other drivers out there who would appreciate a ride in that 22!

  39. Dwayne in Memphis8:03 AM

    If TV stops going to Kurt for interviews...stop going to his hauler after a crash...treat his wrecks/incidents like the "also-rans". Make his Victory Lane comments brief and move on to the 2nd place finisher.

    THEN Shell/Pennzoil takes notice when their product has only marginal exposure and only THEN will Roger Penske take notice once Shell makes him be concerned. The way Joe Gibbs intervened when M&M/Mars took notice.

  40. Anonymous9:33 AM

    I had an interview scheduled with Kurt Busch for an important article last year. He was having a "bad day" and blew me off, forcing me to scramble to get the job done. When I spoke with Tim Cindric, Penske Racing president, he said Kurt had "another story about this." Don't lump it all on Roger Penske; Cindric has day-to-day charge of the team and puts up with this crap.
    Thanks Dave, for putting Mr Petulant in the crosshairs. I hope he - and his brother - go on the unemployment line, and fast.

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  42. Anonymous10:53 AM

    I think in the future, only Jimmy Spencer should interview the Busch Boys. I'd bet there wouldn't be any disrespect shown then. LOL

  43. d_hawks10:56 AM

    well said Dave. Shameful behavior from Penske and KuBu.

  44. Here is another suggestion........ESPN needs to get their act together and be prepared to do an interview and not hold up the person they want to interview.

    I am far far far from a Kurt fan but it appeared it was ESPN's production crew that was screwing up and the tirade was against them.....I expect the media to gather up the wagon and support themselves, so the tripe I've been reading is what would be expected.

  45. Why can't the media just choose not to cover, or interview him? When his sponsors don't get any air time, maybe they will move to another driver. Lots of drivers get very little, or no coverage.It seems like the TV and radio should be able to control who gets air time.

  46. Sue, there was a race going on. The drivers understand there is sometimes a 2-3 minute wait. It's part of being on live TV. The only person that "screwed up" here was Kurt.

  47. Anonymous12:07 PM

    Let's try this again...(I tried to post with my google ID.)

    It's not all about Penske. I hope Penske has the, um, guts to do something.

    It's all about the money. If the sponsor steps up and removes some money, Penske will get the guts. If the sponsors continue to support this scumbag, I will (have stopped) continue to conduct a personal boycott of the sponsors. Yes, I KNOW that my feeble attempt will not cause any heartburn for the sponsors, but I've talked to others who feel the same.

    Rousch had the integrity to do something, it's time for Penske to show some integrity too.

  48. Anonymous12:34 PM

    Kurt Busch showed his true colors in that video. Why? Because for once he could not put on that fake smile for a 30 second interview that the world gets to see. I think we all know this is how Kurt Busch is, and the most disrespectful part of this is Jerry Punch has been in this sport for years, I mean years. No matter what line of work you are in, ALWAYS show respect to those who have put their time in. Totally embarassing. He needs to come work with me sometime. I'm a police officer and he needs to be humbled how alot of society lives and struggle day to day. Unreal, totally a shame.

  49. Anonymous12:39 PM

    His outburst is shameful...to him. But I'd like not to hyperventilate and suck the life out of these guys.

  50. Robert Eastman2:28 PM

    The thing that truly amazes me IS... Kurt Busch (probably) makes at least $100,000 per week ($5 million/year). It takes his sponsor's average customer 2 years to make that amount ($100,000)... if they are fortunate enough to even have a job!
    Kurt's tirade directed at Dr. Jerry Punch proves 1 thing... Kurt Busch IS... REALLY, REALLY, REALLY... STUPID!!!!!!!
    I guess after he loses it all, he and Jeremy Mayfield can team up and go drive trucks over the road 60-70 hours a week for about $40,000 per year like regular folks do.
    REALLY STUPID PEOPLE sabotage themselves! Always treating others with DIGNITY pays back BIG-TIME... something that STUPID PEOPLE never understand!
    (Obviously if KB has good money managers he'll never have to work another day in his life. The main point I'm trying to make... Why doesn't Kurt Busch act nice JUST to protect his own "best interests?" S-T-U-P-I-D!!!)

  51. This letter was also sent to Kurt's company as well as Penske Racing.

    An Open Letter to Kurt Busch

    Some years ago - approaching a decade now - I came back to watching NASCAR after some years away. I looked around to figure out who "my driver" was going to be, and I saw a couple of boys at Roush that intrigued me.

    In the end, it was you who caught my eye.

    I have supported you through thick and thin; sometimes made excuses for you to my friends, sometimes only shrugged and responded "But the boy can DRIVE."

    And now....well, I could say I'm tired of apologizing, and that wouldn't be a lie, but that's not what changed. I could say that I've given up on you getting help and getting your anger under control, but I'm not sure that's true either. And it's not any one event, not any one action or outburst on your part that has brought on this reaction from me. Accumulation of events and outbursts, more like.

    But what's really changed? My six year old granddaughter is starting to watch NASCAR. And I realized that I am ashamed - yes, ASHAMED - to look her in the eye and say "I support a driver who behaves like this."

    NASCAR fans are funny people - we get emotionally involved with our drivers. And this isn't an easy step for me to take. I hope you get help with your anger issues. I'd hate to see you tank your whole career this way.

    But it's become clear that for me, I have to step back to those early days and take another look at that other boy who caught my eye.

    So with great sadness I put away all my 97 stuff....my Blue Deuce stuff....my 22 Shell Pennzoil stuff.....and learn how to quack "Aflac."

  52. Anonymous6:44 PM

    If it is true that Busch the Elder had his ears pinned back, it is too bad they did not pull them all the way back and round and tie them over his mouth. That may have helped not only with the appearance, but also his unfettered ability to mouth off as yet again. Maybe the same could be done for Busch the Younger before he gets in more hot water or has his extremities or features rearranged by someone else. And why is not more being made here of his one finger salute on national camera while pulling into the garage not ten minutes earlier. I agree with several other posters on this and other forums: it is too bad that Penske and Gibbs don't sever their ties with these two; there are plenty of other talented, considerate, deserving, gracious, and needing drivers that apparently could use a good ride. While I don't want to tie them to these two putzes: I think the current driver of the 00, 6, and the 78 are surely talented and deserving - and I would love them to be in good equipment. Not the two selfish inconsiderate childish brothers referred to above. Terry in Delaware.

  53. Anonymous8:24 PM

    I have always thought Kurt and Kyle were very talented but have NEVER been fans of theirs. Mainly because of their disrespect for the elders and veterans of the sport. This incident with Dr Jerry Punch has me really PO'd because one of my favorite drivers (David Reutimann) would NEVER act like this and he could really use a top level ride and sponsor.
    Race_Girl24_7 on Twitter

  54. Dave, I agree with most of what you've said but I would like to point out that Roger Penske has a long, storied and respected career in racing, and is generally thought of as man that does the "right thing" by most accounts. He's the figurehead of the company that bears his name, but I doubt he personally wrote the statement that was released.

    Roger owns the ultimate responsibility for the actions of his organization, but I would suspect that this incident was not finished when they released that statement. I believe Roger should be given the benefit of the doubt that he will make the right decision concerning the fate of his driver and let this story play out. I wouldn't presume to be the one to tell someone as successful as Roger how to run his business, but I am dismayed to see a reputation built over many years get besmirched by the actions of Kurt Busch, and hope that he reads your column as a wake-up call.

    As for either of the Busch brothers, its a damn shame that neither seem to understand that having immense talent does not make them exempt from the "Golden Rule".

  55. Great article Dave until you get to the Jack Roush part.I would be the last one to defend Kurt Busch but you continually make it sound like Kurt lost his job at Roush because of his actions.Jack did take him out of the car with 2 races to go,but Kurt had already quit and announced his signing with Penske on national tv surprising everyone including Jack Roush.Jack has never had anything good to say about Kurt since then,but until he quit they protected him just as Penske does.

  56. Joe Kemper2:56 AM

    Dave, I know you have been "fired-up" this week on this Kurt B. situation. I can only hope that your comments have gotten Roger's attention. Kurt's attack on Dr. Jerry P. should be the final wake up call for mr.Penske.
    Kurt does not care about anyone but himself. You cannot teach people to care. It has to be in their heart. I'm hoping against hope that Roger will finally wake up, after this last terrible, terrible outburst. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family. Joe K. Lincolnton, NC

  57. Anonymous10:58 AM

    Happy Thanksgiving. Dave

    I wouldn't refresh him, I would "REMOVE" him !

    Ron Barcomb, St. Albans, VT.

  58. Anonymous11:35 PM

    I don't generally comment on racing matters or much else - so I will be another anonymous poster to this blog.

    A reasonable person would think that Kurt could have used the 2-3 minute wait for the live interview to have regained his composure, not lost it further. To not step back, take a deep breath and pull it together is just further evidence of immaturity.

    I am very disappointed that Roger Penske, who has been involved in racing seemingly forever and had to work with/around many infamous egos, has not provided this young man with his pink slip - say the day after the incident occurred.

    Perhaps he sees something in Kurt that the rest of us don't see...but we can't wait much longer to see it.

    Thank you for letting me comment.

  59. Janet4:26 AM

    Dave Moody, thank you for being such a fabulous commentator/historian.

  60. Dave, why doesn't NASCAR as well as the team owners & sponsors s enforce a personal conduct policy like other sports. In the case of both Busch brothers they should have suspensions (ala Kyle) & be required t complete an anger management program before returning to the track. They must also be required to continued with a "maintenance" for at least a season. If they have any future incidents their suspensions would be the length of a full season if not a lifetime ban.