Clinton, South Carolina, Saturday, February 21, 2015, 9:53 a.m.
The long arm of the law has hung over Kurt Busch ever since the NASCAR weekend at Dover International Speedway that culminated in the AAA 400 on Sept. 28.
The older Busch brother started 22nd, finished 18th, and apparently experienced a moribund weekend.
But wait …
It was not a boring one, as it turned out. It wasn’t an insignificant one. The Sprint Cup race had nothing to do with its significance. Some sort of altercation (apparently, allegedly, perhaps, and/or in the considered opinion of a judge) occurred between Busch and his former girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll. In November, domestic violence was alleged. On Friday, NASCAR suspended Busch, though he hasn’t been criminally charged. Chevrolet cut off relations. I don’t think I’ve owned a Chevy in thirty years, but it hasn’t cut off relations with me. Chevy wants me back. It shut down the Kurt Busch embassy.
I’ve watched the Driscoll promotional video. I’ve heard the versions of both the Skipper and Gilligan. (Remember how that show would provide one jaded version of an incident, then the screen would flip-flop, and the scene would be depicted in an entirely different light? It was once one of those little mechanisms that popped up in old situation comedies.) I don’t know what happened. It’s lawyer versus lawyer.
The only insight I can provide that isn’t jaded or skewed by one version or another is my knowledge of Kurt Busch. By accident, I was in Las Vegas, researching a book (True to the Roots: Americana Music Revealed), on Kurt Busch Day in 2004, after he had won the first Chase. I was there after Busch and Jimmy Spencer tangled at Michigan. I can still see Spencer, coming out of the NASCAR transporter waggling a cigar, and Busch, wearing sunglasses to hide a shiner, leaving in a golf cart, lips poked out.
I have memories, good and bad, of Kurt Busch, because there is much good and bad in him.
Most of the time, Kurt Busch is an admirable fellow. No one in NASCAR has given more of his time to travel to a track and take part in some ticket-selling promotion. He’s given pep talks, ridden around tracks with lucky fans, and stood in actual ticket offices answering actual phones and selling actual tickets to fans actually lined up.
Most of the time, he is a really good guy, but, when things don’t go to suit him, the brat comes out.
Busch also has this awful tendency to make things worse by behaving boorishly. When he was detained outside Phoenix International Raceway by some of Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s finest, he reportedly did the old “apparently you don’t know who the bleep I am?” routine.
That seldom works.
When Busch was suspended for threatening a reporter (Bob Pockrass), I thought it was wrong. First of all, I’m uncomfortable with NASCAR policing the relations between driver and media. Secondly, if that scene had happened to me, I wouldn’t have been surprised. For twenty years, I expected there to be a time or two during the season when someone – a driver, an owner, an official, a loner, an engineer, a producer, a winner, a loser – would cuss me out. They would take me to task for something I had written.
My favorite way to handle this was to let them have their say, and then reply, “In my defense, it was heartfelt.” Sometimes it took me by surprise, and I could not maintain my calm. With some, maintaining one’s calm was ineffective. Such a man was Dale Earnhardt, but that’s another story.
Now, with all that being said, my chief defense is that I sympathize with people. Being imperfect myself, I recognize that others often have foibles, too. That doesn’t mean Kurt Busch isn’t responsible for his actions, and this is hardly the first time his self-destructive bent has put his career in jeopardy.
His biggest mistake was letting it all go. Where he most needs self-control is in maintaining his future. I expect that, quite possibly, the two words that flit most often through Busch’s cacophonous mind are one that begins with an “F” and another that is an indefinite pronoun.
That simple credo can be constructive in regard to small matters. In anything beyond the matter of putting off mowing the lawn until tomorrow, it can lead to ruination, particularly at the end of a litany of failed attempts.
I hope it hasn’t come to that.
This is definitely stranger than the fiction that is available for your perusal at www.wellpilgrim.wordpress.com. I might could top it with my novels, The Audacity of Dope and The Intangibles, available along with many of my non-fiction books here: http://www.amazon.com/Monte-Dutton/e/B005H3B144/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1416767492&sr=8-1