Posted: Monday November 21, 2005 10:08AM; Updated: Monday November 21, 2005 10:08AM
Kurt Busch can be a bit abrasive, to say the least. During a feud with veteran driver Jimmy Spencer a few years back, Busch kept calling him an "old, decrepit has-been." Spencer wound up punching Busch in the mug after a race. Kevin Harvick once called Busch an "arrogant punk." Busch is one of those guys who has a way of sounding smug and condescending even when he's using a big word in the wrong way. It rubs many the wrong way.
So when he got pulled over for going 60 in a 45 zone and running a stop sign in Phoenix two weeks ago, it didn't come as a surprise that he got belligerent with the cops. He claimed he was only being hassled because the officer who pulled him over was a Jeff Gordon fan. The deputy said he smelled alcohol on Busch's breath, so he had him submit to a preliminary breath test and then took him to a nearby sheriff's facility for a breathalyzer, but the machine malfunctioned. Busch was given a citation for reckless driving and sent on his way.
Busch immediately went into spin cycle, insisting the citation was not "alcohol related." However, his employers, Roush Racing, were through with him. (It should be noted that Busch had already signed a deal to drive for a different team in 2006 and that the Roush folks weren't too happy about that.) Geoff Smith, the president of Roush Racing, said in announcing that Busch would be suspended for the season's final two races: "It's the last straw for Roush Racing. We're officially retiring as Kurt Busch's apologists, effective today." Which is fine. But Smith also said: ""It's very offensive to us that he chose to take on the arresting officer the way he did verbally. And then the fact there was alcohol, even in the smallest way, involved." That last bit made it sound an awful lot like Smith was going out of his way to undercut Busch's assertion that alcohol hadn't been involved. It didn't take much reading between the lines to see that.
Well, last week news came out that Busch's preliminary results indicated a blood-alcohol content of .017. Busch told the cops he had one drink with dinner. A .017 sounds about right for one drink. Smith had every right to suspend Busch and tell the world he was sick of Busch's immature behavior. He didn't have the right to make an issue out of Busch's alcohol consumption when it was a non-issue. Smith, whose salary is paid in part by the millions that Crown Royal pays to sponsor the car Busch drove, needs to admit that what he said was out of line. Busch sometimes behave like an arrogant punk, but in this case, he deserves an apology.