Kurt Busch Defends Darlington Actions
CONCORD, N.C. – Kurt Busch said Friday he didn’t believe any of Ryan Newman’s crewmen were in danger when he executed a burnout through Newman’s pit as he left pit road following a wreck in last weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Darlington Raceway.
“Newman left his pit a good 10 seconds before us,” Busch said as his team prepared for Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint All Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “We just wanted to finish on the lead lap, so I was trying to get off pit road as quick as I could. One guy had a problem with it and it just escalated from there.”
Busch and Newman wrecked on the track’s frontstretch at the same time late in the race, but didn’t collide with each other. When the cars came down pit road following the race’s conclusion Busch’s Chevrolet bumped into the rear of Newman’s Chevrolet.
Newman walked over to Busch’s car, talked with him and walked off. A short time later Newman’s gasman got into a scuffle with some of Busch’s crew and a NASCAR official who was attempting to diffuse the situation landed on the hood of Busch’s car.
Busch was fined $50,000 and placed on probation until July 25 for several infractions, including reckless driving on pit road during the race and being involved in an altercation with another competitor after the event. He said he didn’t drive through Newman’s pit box intentionally.
Craig Strickler, a crewman for Busch, was fined $5,000 and placed on probation until Dec. 31 for interfering with a broadcast media member. Newman’s crew chief, Tony Gibson, is on probation until June 27 because a crew chief is responsible for his team members’ actions. Newman’s gasman, Andy Rueger, was fined $5,000 and put on probation until June 27 for failure to listen to a NASCAR official.
Tony Stewart, the owner of Newman’s team, said Friday he felt the penalties were “appropriate” on “our guys’ side.”
“It is our responsibility to keep our guys in our pit box and they don’t need to be running down pit road after people after the race is over,” Stewart said. “I think the message got delivered to our crew guy.”
Stewart said he thought they were helping with “a little bit” of the fine, but he was not going to make a habit of it.
“If they get fined, they are going to have to take care of it,” Stewart said. “The crew guys never helped me pay my fines when I got in trouble. I had to pay them all on my own.”
Busch said his $50,000 fine would come out of his pocket.
“I have been fined probably the most out of any driver and I’ve probably paid it out of my pocket more than any driver,” Busch said.
Busch said he told Newman the “honest truth” that he hit his car because he was taking off his helmet and indicated he was disappointed in his former Penske Racing teammate for not believing him.
“Newman and I were friends,” Busch said. “We were great teammates. He needs to check his trophy case on the Daytona 500 trophy that I helped him get years ago.”
In 2008, Busch pushed Newman to victory in the 50th anniversary Daytona 500, giving the Penske teammates a 1-2 finish in the season opener.
“We’ve always been great friends,” Busch continued. “There was no need for his comments afterwards. He knew his Southern 500 didn’t go the way he wanted it to and at the end of the night everybody is hot, pissed off. I wanted to finish in the top 10 and we didn’t get that top-10 finish. It was a tough night that all went bad in a hurry. For that, I apologized to NASCAR. It is what it is; I will move on.”2 Comments