Updated: June 4, 2012, 7:33 PM ET

Kurt Busch still struggling with anger

Newton By David Newton

BuschGeoff Burke/Getty Images Kurt Busch was put on probation by NASCAR after the May 12 Sprint Cup race at Darlington where he and Ryan Newman -- and Newman's crew -- had a disagreement.

We interrupt your regularly scheduled Monday Rundown programming on the Sprint Cup Series to discuss Kurt Busch's one-race suspension for threats made to a reporter following Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Dover.

It appears the 2004 Cup champion won't be satisfied until he has chewed out every member of the NASCAR media.

Or has been banned from NASCAR entirely.

Busch took a step in that direction on Monday when NASCAR suspended him from Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway.

The suspension came because of comments Busch made to Sporting News reporter Bob Pockrass after being asked if his May 12 probation for an incident at Darlington with Ryan Newman impacted the way he handled a racing incident with Justin Allgaier at the "Monster Mile."

"It refrains me from not beating the s--- out of you right now because you ask me stupid questions," Busch told the reporter after the race. "But because I'm on probation I suppose that's improper to say as well."

Well, yes. And Busch realizes it now -- two days too late.

"I put them [NASCAR] in a box, they had to take action and it's my fault for putting them in this position," Busch said of NASCAR in a prepared statement. "I apologize for the comments I made to Bob Pockrass."

This is not the first time Busch has apologized for abusive behavior toward the media. It probably won't be his last, unless this suspension turns into a career-ending moment.

It could. Busch already was on shaky ground looking for a top team and owner to drive for in 2013. Now his current owner, James Finch, isn't sure he wants Busch around when the suspension is lifted on June 13.

Finch told ESPN.com he would meet with Busch over the next couple of days to discuss whether they would keep the handshake agreement they made before the season.

He didn't sound like a man convinced the arrangement could or would work.

"If he's going to kill himself, I'm not going to be in the airplane with him," Finch said by phone. "If that's what he's planning on doing, I am going to get out."

Finch made it clear after Busch was released by Penske Racing following a profanity-laced tirade against ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November that if Busch embarrassed him like he did Roger Penske "he would have gotten his ass beat on pit road."

"He needs to simmer down a while," Finch told ESPN.com in December. "There are a lot of people that don't like Kurt. He's never done anything to me personally. He just needs to look in the mirror and see what the problem is."

Now Busch has done something to Finch personally, even though the incident came while Busch was driving a Kyle Busch Motorsports Nationwide car for his little brother.

Finch made it clear there are several qualified drivers to take over Phoenix Racing's No. 51 Chevrolet.

Busch's abusive behavior toward the media starting getting out of control last season. He had to be restrained from confronting a NASCAR.com reporter following the September Cup race at Richmond after being asked about his relationship with Jimmie Johnson heading into the Chase.

That same night he ripped up a transcript on the desk of an Associated Press reporter after she showed him his comments that he had denied.

Busch cursed out this ESPN.com reporter before practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway in October when I was asking a member of his then-public relations staff at Penske Racing if crew chief Steve Addington could address reports he was headed to Stewart-Haas Racing after the season.

After his season ended early with a transmission failure at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Busch unleashed a profanity-laced tirade on Punch shortly after delivering an obscene gesture in the direction of First Lady Michelle Obama's motorcade when entering the garage.

Then came Saturday's outburst, which led to Monday's suspension.

You can question whether Busch deserved to be placed on probation for his Darlington run-in with Newman. He didn't come within three feet of hitting one of Newman's crew members exiting his pit box, although Newman's crew members made it sound like a life-and-death situation.

Busch insists to this day that his bump of Newman's car on pit road after the race was an accident, that he was taking off his helmet when the cars in front of him checked up.

There's no questioning that Busch's comments on Saturday were threatening.

NASCAR is in a tough position here. The governing body wants its drivers to show personality. It also wants its drivers to show common decency.

Busch getting angry with a driver after a heated moment on the track is understandable. Getting angry with a reporter asking legitimate questions isn't.

The media didn't place Busch on probation. The media didn't cause Busch to lose his job at Penske Racing and force him to drive for underfunded Phoenix Racing. The media didn't cause Allgaier to question how aggressive Busch drove him in Saturday's Nationwide race. The media didn't cause Busch's transmission to fail at Homestead.

But Busch chooses to pick battles with the media anyway. Perhaps he feels the media is free game. Perhaps he's afraid to pick battles with other drivers for fear of the repercussions, either from NASCAR or owners who could be potential employers.

Shortly after his tirade Saturday, Busch told a TV reporter, "I'm on probation so I can't even pick my nose the right way."

When you behave like Busch has, you can't.

Had Busch shown any restraint after Saturday's race, the Nationwide portion of this story would be about the race won by Joey Logano and Elliott Sadler taking the points lead from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

But whatever therapy Busch is getting for anger management -- which he acknowledged he was seeking after last season -- isn't working. If it was, we wouldn't be spending the Monday Rundown spot reserved for Sunday's Sprint Cup race on this.

If it was, Busch's future in the sport might not be in jeopardy.

And if it doesn't get fixed soon, we may be back here discussing his behavior again.

James: Patrick wrecks again Recap | Results | Highlights

Sprint Cup Series: Another frustrating day for Jeff Gordon

You can't blame Jeff Gordon for being frustrated. Were it not for a loose left-rear tire and debris caution on Sunday at Dover, were it not for a crazy dive-bomb move by Clint Bowyer on a green-white-checkered restart at Martinsville, the four-time champion could have two wins and be a solid 17th in points.

He would own the second wild-card spot for the Chase.

Instead, he's 21st in points with no wins.

And not very happy about it.

"It's always more frustrating when you've got a car that can win; and you show it by going up there and taking the lead,'' Gordon said after finishing 13th. "We don't care about finishing top-15 or top-10 right now. That does nothing for us. We need wins."

Gordon thought he would have one on Sunday. He felt he had a car at least as good as teammate Jimmie Johnson, who won for the third time in the past four weeks counting the All-Star Race.

"Until that debris caution?'' Gordon told reporters at the track after leading 60 laps. "Yeah, I can't wait to see that debris on TV. I'd like to see it because I certainly never saw it. I'm not going to make any comments until I see what their reasoning for it was.''

Fortunately for Gordon, there are plenty of tracks coming up where he traditionally is strong and can win. And he's only one point out of the top 20 needed to qualify for a wild-card spot.

There's still plenty of time to make the Chase.

But the frustration is there.

"The fastest car doesn't always win the race,'' Gordon said. "And we're sitting here in 13th or whatever. It's silly.''

Terry Blount column: JJ slays The Monster | Live! rewind | Recap | Results | Highlights

Camping World Truck Series: Todd Bodine gets much-needed win

Nothing against Kevin Harvick in his continued effort to win a race at Dover, but good for Todd Bodine. He needed the win more than Harvick, even if it was rain-shortened.

The two-time series champion is trying to keep his career going with Red Horse Racing at a time when sponsorship is hard to come by. A win can't hurt.

"You don't like to win them this way, but I've lost them this way and we're going to take this one to the house,'' Bodine told reporters after winning his first Truck race at Dover.

The win gave Bodine, 48, three straight top-5 finishes and moved him from ninth to fifth in the standings, 37 points behind leader Justin Lofton. It came a few days after Red Horse Racing announced it suspended John King's team due to lack of sponsorship.

Harvick may have wanted the win badly, but Bodine needed it.

Recap | Results

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.


You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?