Particularly since his latest round of problems at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend, it’s easy to find people with the opinion that Kyle Busch can’t win a Sprint Cup championship unless he undergoes a significant attitude adjustment.
Busch was a loose cannon in media interviews at Texas and then gave a NASCAR official the middle-finger salute after being penalized for speeding on pit road. That earned Busch a $25,000 fine from NASCAR.
Busch’s drive often puts him in winning situations on the race track, but his apparent inability to harness his emotions at key times is a detriment.
Busch addressed the situation in a meeting with news media representatives at Phoenix International Raceway Friday.
“I think for myself there is a fire that has helped me win the races that I’ve been able to win, but it’s also cost me in some other times – which was the instance last weekend which was inappropriate and childish ... I made a mistake,” he said. “I regret the mistake that I made last week.
“In going forward now – it’s not where I’m in the beginning of growing up. I’m definitely not to the end. I’m somewhere in between. So, there’s a balance there. And, obviously, I haven’t learned exactly everything that I’ve wanted to learn yet about being able to control my emotions, or what have you. So, there’s a better way to do things. And I haven’t quite conquered that.
“Where I’m at, I couldn’t tell you. But, whether or not that is the cause for me not being able to contend for a championship I’d have to disagree 100 percent. I won a Nationwide Series championship last year as the same person I am. This year, I feel like we were in contention up until we had a couple bad races. …It’s not where this past weekend’s events at Texas is what led us not being able to win this year’s [Sprint Cup] championship.”
Busch, who apologized Tuesday after the race, said his reaction during the race Sunday was “disrespectful to NASCAR and to their officials in the way that they go about business. So, with no doubt in my mind that what I did was wrong, but, of course, the reaction on NASCAR – it’s ultimately their decision and their discretion.
“So, I support that – what they did. You look back and you learn and you live and you try to move on and you go on and concentrate on this weekend here and finish out the year strong at Homestead.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEED.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.