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Will Busch Bust Up The Furniture?

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, October 12 2012

Kurt Busch is sitting in the Furniture Row ride this weekend. (RacinToday/HHP photo by Christa L Thomas)

With a fresh start this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch now has the opportunity to make his way into a pretty interesting fraternity: The fraternity of professional athletes who have wasted massive talent and potential because of an inability to exercise acceptable levels of self control.

Here’s hoping the eldest of the Busch brothers does something that precludes entry into that frat. Something like learn to count to 10 and keep the inner demons internalized until he reaches a safe, isolated place.

So far, those who have  ”2″ in the pool for the number opportunities Busch has squandered, are in the money. And should the contest end right now and there is more than one entrant with that number, 2.5 will be used as the tiebreaker as you have to say that Busch’s time with Phoenix Racing was looking mighty freaky at the end.

In Concord, owner Barney Visser and GM Joe Garone of Furniture Row Racing will begin to take their shot at doing what Roush Fenway, Penske Racing and Jimmy Spencer’s fist have not been able to do. They will attempt to reform the top bad boy of contemporary American auto racing.

Perhaps the folks at Furniture Row will be counting on the old “this is your last chance” incentive in their attempt to keep Busch from further maiming himself – and them.

Maybe they will try to convince the troubled lad from Las Vegas that with self-inflicted shotgun blasts having already blown away his foot, shin and much of his knee, there is very little room in the NASCAR market for one-legged drivers.

Hopes for avoiding further recidivism took a blow last weekend in Talladega after Busch was involved in a wreck. With track workers still checking out damage and getting ready to tow the severely damaged car away, Busch refired his Phoenix Racing engine and drove off.

NASCAR ultimately parked Busch and the last James Finch-owned Cup car he likley will ever drive. This week, series officials announced there would be no further disciplinary action against the 2004 Sprint Cup champion, even though he was on probation (geez, isn’t he always?) for previous misadventures.

Nobody has really talked about what went on after Busch crashed at Talladega, what was said between driver and track crews. It might have been less dangerous than it looked on TV.

But those who watched events unfold know what happened afterward, when the camera’s red light went on. Busch launched into a bizarre tap dance routine about how competitive juices made him do it. His look and tone were Manson Family-ish as he rambled on, wide-eyed. You just wanted people, any people, to line up and attempt to slap him back to his senses “Airplane, The Movie” style.

This, right here would be the place where one would normally insert the stuff about Busch’s massive talents. Put some victory numbers in, use adjectives like “special” and colored nouns like “wheelman”.

But that is no longer the point with Busch. It’s a given that he is an elite talent and it could soon be a given that he is beyond help.

Barney, Joe, Denver, geez, hope you know what you’re doing. You got a pretty good rep you’re putting on the line for the next six races and all of next season.

Yes, Busch gets a fresh start this weekend, which means, of course, the watch also begins to see how long the start stays fresh. Stamp your own spoilage date on him. But the thought here, unfortunately, is that the now 34-year-old could-have-been-Hall-of-Famer begins to smell a bit odd some time in April.

– Jim Pedley can be reached at jpedley@racintoday.com

Jim Pedley | Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Friday, October 12 2012
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