Kurt Busch apologizes to Jerry Punch

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- NASCAR driver Kurt Busch publicly apologized Thursday to the ESPN reporter he berated during last season's finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch began an on-camera interview with ESPN's Jerry Punch by hugging him and saying he was "so sorry with the way last year ended."

"I feel horrible," Busch added.

A fan videotaped Busch verbally abusing Punch as he waited to be interviewed. Busch also was caught on his in-car camera making an obscene gesture as he drove into the garage at Homestead. NASCAR later fined Busch $50,000.

Busch and Penske Racing parted ways a few weeks later in what both called a mutual agreement, but many believe he was fired in the fallout of yet another embarrassing incident for the race team.

Busch, who has been working with a sports psychologist, is now driving the No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing and owner James Finch.