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CONCORD, N.C. – Kurt Busch was in hot water before Saturday night's race and didn't seem to mind a bit.
Busch participated in a dunk tank as part of a promotion for State Water Heaters, sponsor of his Chevrolet at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Media members got to take shots at dunking Busch in a tank of warm water, and Busch was knocked in seven times.
Busch has gotten himself into trouble at various times during his NASCAR career for his temper, so he was self-deprecating during Saturday's sponsor promotion.
"It's about having fun and getting in the dunk tank and letting the media get their aggression on me with a ball and target instead of their ink and their send button," Busch said. "I challenge the media to come on up and throw the ball at the target and see if you can get me in the fun way instead of the normal way when you hit send."
Busch made the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship this year, his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing. But he was eliminated after the first round, and team co-owner Gene Haas was disappointed the driver did not advance further.
Haas, who hand-picked Busch to drive a new fourth car at SHR, said Busch got himself into a self-inflicted hole during the second Chase race.
"Kurt basically said he knew it was his own fault," Haas said. "The strategy was to get into the Chase, which we did. But the strategy is we failed to sustain. He's trying to win races all of the time. And we didn't need to win races all of the time. We needed to survive so we could make it to the final race where it becomes the one you want to win."
But Haas was not upset with his driver, who competes in a car sponsored by Haas' company and paid for by the team co-owner. Busch took Haas Automation to Victory Lane for the first time since Haas entered NASCAR with a win at Martinsville earlier this year.
"You can't fix Kurt. He wants to win so badly. Of all the drivers I have seen, he is the one that wants to win every minute," Haas said. "I like that. It's a good attitude and our problem is we need to give him cars he can drive and we have stumbled on that part. We haven't been able to give him exactly what he wants. If you give him what he wants ... he drives at the front all of the time. He's a great driver and has a lot of passion you don't see in a lot of drivers."