Friday, May 18, 2012
Kurt Busch Attempts To Defend Darlington Actions, Says NASCAR Fans Want WWE-Type Action
Less than a week after yet another post-race meltdown, Kurt Busch held an unannounced media session behind his Phoenix Racing hauler at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Although the former Sprint Cup Series champion had a new sponsor aboard his car this weekend (Monster Energy announced a one-race deal), none of the questions focused on the team's new colors.
Instead, the focus of Friday's short media session was solely on the post-race dust-up with Ryan Newman and his Stewart-Haas Racing crew members, and the $50,000 fine levied by NASCAR.
Standing behind his hauler, Busch appeared hostile and agitated as he fielded questions. The 2004 champion contended he had no issue with either Newman or his crew late in the race.
However, Busch sped through the No. 39 pit box in close proximity to the crew members - the reason for the post-race altercation.
"I just wanted to finish on the lead lap, I was trying to get off pit road as quick as I could," he explained. "Newman, he left a good 10-seconds before us and I had no reason to think any crew guys were in danger. One guy has a problem with it and it escalates from there."
In addition, when the field came to pit road at the end of the race, Busch made contact with Newman's car on pit road - something he attributed to taking his helmet off as drivers were checking up.
That escalation led to a shoving match between the two teams. NASCAR hit Busch with a $50,000 fined and placed him on probation until July 25.
Following the incident, Newman told SI.com's Dustin Long he believed Busch's actions were due to a "chemical imbalance" and he simply "blew a fuse again." Thursday night at the NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge, Newman did not back down from those comments when speaking with Sporting News' Bob Pockrass.
Busch, however, took issue with his former teammate's comments, saying they are no longer friends.
"Newman and I were friends. We were great teammates, and he needs to check his trophy case on the Daytona 500 trophy I helped him get years ago," Busch said. "We've always been great friends. There was no need for his comments afterwards. He knew that his Southern 500 didn't go the way he wanted it to. At the end of the night, everybody's hot and pissed off. The Daytona 500 is a big race, but Darlington is just as big of an event, and a lot of people get excited for it."
Busch believes Newman's comments came after a frustrating finish, saying they were "out of line" as well.
"I think we're both looking at the same scenario coming up here in the next few summer months," he said, hinting towards the fact both drivers are free agents possibly courting the same rides and sponsors.
When asked if Newman's comments were an attempt to discredit him through the media, Busch suggested the drama was "WWE-type action" which was "good for our sport."
Busch said he did not feel he drove through the No. 39 team's pit box recklessly, and that was not the only reason he was fined by NASCAR. "I closed the door abruptly when I left the NASCAR hauler, and they didn't like that."
Through his many run-ins with NASCAR, Busch admitted it is likely he has "a bigger strike zone" than other drivers, but does not approach things any differently.
"The fans, I heard them cheer louder than when Jimmie Johnson pulled into Victory Lane when the crew guy came over agitated and knocked a (NASCAR) official on top our hood," he said. "That's when the crowd reacted the most. So, you tell me if (the fans) want WWE. This is fun, this is entertainment right guys? This is why you guys are all here suffocating me at the back of this hauler."
With that, Busch ended his media session. Leaving more questions than answers, not helping his cause in any way.