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Monday, June 25, 2012

Kurt Busch’s wild month continues with emotional 3rd-place run at Sonoma

Does Kurt Busch get it now?

So far this year, up until last week in fact, Kurt has been known mostly as a guy full of temper tantrums who is out to fight with the media. But Kurt Busch showed a whole new side Sunday at Sonoma.

After the race, during which he did everything he could to win and almost got by eventual winner Clint Bowyer on a few occasions, Kurt was very emotional, on the verge of tears, after his strong run in a highly underfunded car. (about a third of the budget of big teams, he says.).

“It’s an amazing day when you can do what we did today. I’m a little choked up,” he said. “I’m just glad we brought it home third. I just made that one mistake. If you’re not perfect in Sprint Cup, then it’s tough.”

Most people in the garage – even the media members he so regularly clashes with -- appeared genuinely happen for Kurt after the race, and his team members were all very emotional.

Busch gave credit to the valiant efforts of the Phoenix Racing staff.

When you show up and you're on a third of the budget and you almost bring it to victory lane, you can't say that one guy does it out here. It takes a full team effort. But I really want to deliver for my guys today.”

Kurt said in the media center afterward that: If I can get my head on straight here and after the race, then I'm able to race every weekend and go for victories.”

In fact, the media was so impressed with Kurt’s run and his newfound recognition of how a champion should act, they actually applauded after his press conference. Normally this is a no-no in the press area, but in this situation it was probably acceptable. t’s really an amazing turnaround from just last week, when he was feuding with yet another media member – (total is at least 3 if I recall correctly – Punch, Pockrass, Smith; and maybe I’m forgetting someone.)

So again I ask .. does Kurt Busch get it now?

Nothing is certain, and he could always return to his childish ways of the past, but It’s starting to look like it might actually be true.

No one ever doubted his ability to drive. But the temper tantrums can ruin your career.

Could this be the start of a new chapter in the 2004 Cup champ’s career? I certainly hope so.

Many have dubbed me a Kurt Busch hater due to my past blogs on his behavior. But know this, I never have had a problem with Kurt Busch personally, just with his actions. If he can act like a normal human being and not berate his team and the media everytime something happens that he doesn’t like, then I will not have a cross word to say about him.

After his run at Sonoma, maybe, just maybe, those types of actions are in the past and I can write a bunch of nice stuff about Kurt as the weeks go on.

I would like that to be the case, because if he can find success long-term with a team as unfunded as James Finch’s Phoenix Racing, it truly is a story that deserves positive coverage.

If fact, I am willing to bet that most media members covering the race were hoping he would actually win the race; That would have been the most amazing story of all.

Bad weekend for Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Last week he was the winner. This week, he wishes he could just forget. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was never fast, and to top it off he got wrecked late in the race. Despite the bad run, he remains 3rd in points, but he’s not happy with the weekend at all.

“I’m just mad because we didn’t run better. We were better than this. I’ve run better here. We weren’t good all weekend. We just I think, we’ve got to put a better car on the race track. I mean I ain’t the best road course racer out there, but I can damn sure do better than that. So we’ve got to pick up the race car a little bit. That’s on my shoulders and (crew chief) Steve’s (Letarte) shoulders and our engineers and our whole team and we’ve just got to do a better job.”

Ambrose not a factor
One surprise at Sonoma was the fact that Marcos Ambrose was not a factor at all.

“We really missed it. I just feel bad for my Stanley team,” Ambrose said. “We missed it bad and we did good to recover and get a top-10 out of it. We will take it and move on. We got the pole and had a lot of speed; we just missed it for the race. We were slow. It was just terrible. We had no speed in the car and we paid the price.”

Other drivers weigh in on their runs
GREG BIFFLE, No. 16 3M Ford Fusion (Finished 7th) –
“We had a decent day but we were just too loose all day. We didn’t have enough forward drive to turn the way we needed. We need to work on our road course program a little bit. Matt (Puccia) made a great call to salvage a good day for us. It is disappointing we can’t run any better than we are.”

CASEY MEARS, No. 13 GEICO Ford Fusion (Finished 15th) – “I am real proud of everybody on our team. We had a good car all weekend but we were too loose in the high speed stuff which made it pretty difficult not to get passed in turn 10 and difficult to pass. Overall our speed was good and I was happy with the way the car drove. At the end we made a gutsy call running 16th and decided to stay out. That got us to seventh but the guys behind us lined up on tires we just were a sitting duck and couldn’t go anywhere. We fell back all the way to 20-something and then at the end we got a chance to get tires and drove back to 16th. It was a solid day for us. I am proud of what everybody did here and we will just keep improving.”

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