Man, oh man! I just couldn't help whoopin' and hollerin' when they started talking about this during the race today. As Earl would say, it's cause of the karma -- it finally caught up with ol' Kurt!
Roush suspends Busch for final two races of '05
By Mark Spoor, NASCAR.COM
November 13, 2005
AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Roush Racing on Sunday suspended Kurt Busch for the remainder of the 2005 season after the defending Nextel Cup champion was cited Friday evening for reckless driving.
Kenny Wallace will drive the No. 97 Ford in Sunday's Checker Auto Parts 500. A decision has not been made on who will drive the car next in the season finale at Homestead on Nov. 20.
"This suspension is made after full review of all the circumstances surrounding Kurt's Friday night altercation with the Arizona police, and after consultation with our primary sponsors, Newell-Rubbermaid and Diageo [the parent company of Crown Royal]," team owner Jack Roush said.
"All parties are in complete support that the action being taken [Sunday] is necessary and appropriate under the circumstances," he said. "We felt that he was far enough out of line that it was a breech of his contract with me and that put me into breech with the contracts with my sponsors so we had to take action to alleviate the damage that was done in that relationship."
Busch was stopped Friday night after trying to avoid another car and running a stop sign about two miles from Phoenix International Raceway.
"As a result of the roadside investigation the deputy did take Mr. Busch into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol," Lt. Paul Chagolla, a Maricopa County sheriff's spokesman, told The Associated Press on Saturday.
Not only was Busch partially sponsored by Crown Royal this year, but he is to drive the No. 2 Dodge, sponsored by Miller Lite, next season with Penske Racing.
NASCAR's released a statement saying that Busch would not face any punishment from the sanctioning body: "NASCAR fully supports Jack Roush's decision to replace Kurt Busch in the No. 97 Ford for the remainder of the season. Based on the facts that are known today, no actions by NASCAR are necessary."
Roush said the decision to suspend Busch came after the team spoke with the arresting officer and the team's sponsors.
"Roush Racing is embarrassed. The sponsors are embarrassed," Roush said. "This really cuts it. We're embarrassed for all of the NASCAR community."
Roush Racing president Geoff Smith had a similar take.
"It's the last straw for Roush Racing," Smith said. "We're officially retiring as Kurt Busch's apologists effective [Sunday]."
Busch apologized for the incident Saturday night before the suspension was announced.
"I regret the incident that occurred near the Phoenix International Raceway Friday evening where I received a traffic citation," Busch said in a statement. "It is important to understand that this citation is not alcohol related. I want to apologize to the Maricopa County Sheriff's department for my actions."
Busch has had myriad problems on and off the racetrack throughout his career with Roush Racing. At Darlington in May, Busch did not go where he was told following a crash and responded with an expletive-laden tirade on his radio that was directed at NASCAR officials. He also threw a water bottle that hit a NASCAR official in his pit.
Busch is eighth in the Nextel Cup standings, 281 points behind leader Tony Stewart. Under the rules of the Chase for the Nextel Cup, the worst Busch will finish in the final point standings is 10th.
Smith said it would be unlikely that Busch could drive for another team during the final two races to improve that position.
"He doesn't have the right to run for other teams without our permission," Smith said, "which would be extremely, reluctantly granted at this point."
Roger Penske, who will be Busch's boss beginning next season, said nothing has changed as far as his team's relationship with the defending Cup champion.
"This situation is unfortunate for high-profile athletes who are under significant scrutiny," Penske said. "We support him 100 percent for the future and we will work with him to be a great driver."
Wallace said he got the call to jump behind the wheel of the No. 97 Ford about 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday, as he was on the air on SPEED's NASCAR This Morning.
"Jack Roush has been a friend to me throughout my whole career," Wallace said. "And he just called me up and he said, 'Hey, can you drive the 97 car?' and when I got my composure, I was like, 'Yeah, no problem.'
But Wallace said he agreed with a heavy heart.
"I feel bad for everybody in this whole situation," Wallace said. "I'm a professional and we're going to go out there and race. There's nothing like starting a race cold turkey, but we've done it a lot and we'll be OK."
Busch qualified 17th for Sunday's race, but due to the driver change, Wallace will start from the rear of the field.
"We're gonna race, make sure we stay on the lead lap," Wallace said. "I just need like five laps to get the feel of the car and we'll just go after it. I'm prepared and ready to go."
In typical Wallace fashion, he found the humor in Sunday's unusual situation.
"We've got a Miller helmet with tape all over it. We've got a National Guard uniform," Wallace said. "I'm the same size as Kurt, but I've got a 42-year-old midsection, but it doesn't slow me up.
"We tried hard to get the Irwin uniform to fit me, but that kid, he's just really skinny."
In God we trust, all others must show ID.