Controversial Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series driver Kurt Busch has been handed a one week ban from NASCAR competition, following comments he made to members of the media at Dover International Speedway after Saturday afternoon's race.
The ban means he will not be able to compete for Phoenix Racing at Pocono. He's also been placed on extended NASCAR probation through to the end of the year.
Busch had been involved in a long battle with Justin Allgaier during Saturday's 5-hour Energy 200 race which saw him make contact with the rear of Allgaier's car at the start of the race which Allgaier took as intentional. Allgaier went on to make it as difficult as possible for Busch to pass him for the rest of the race, and afterwards waited for Busch in pit lane. The two men went to examine the original damage at the back of Allgaier's #31 car with both asserting their views in an assertive but non-physical discussion.
However, this happened in the full glare of the media and reporters inevitably wanted to know what had been said between the two men. Allgaier was quick to brush off the matter: "The weather," he quipped when asked what they had discussed, adding: "We were both fighting for the same real estate and unfortunately ... just agreed to disagree."
But for his part when interviewed by ESPN's Dr Jerry Punch, Kurt Busch said: "He drove like a you-know-what all day and tried to door us and tried to do stupid things out on track ... There's clowns that wanna play, and we'll play," adding: "Race your car, kid, race your car. That's all there is to it, it's called a race, that's what we're doing out here."
Busch added: "I'm on probation, so I can't even pick my nose the right way."
So far no problem, but once the TV cameras moved away Busch was approached by Sporting News reporter Bob Pockrass who wanted to know whether the fact that Busch was on probation over a pit lane incident at Darlington in May had left him feeling unable to fight back against Allgaier's tactics on the track. Busch's irked response was picked up on camera.
"It refrains me from not beating the shit out of you right now, because you ask me stupid questions," he said. "But since I'm on probation, I suppose that's improper to say as well. If you could talk about racing things, we could talk about racing things, Bob."
When Pockrass insisted that it was a legitimate racing-related question, Busch disagreed again: "It's not racing," he said. "You're in this just to start stuff. That's all you're out here for."
Pundits expected there to be some sort of reprimand for Busch for the comments, which subsequently aired on SPEED TV and went viral online. But a suspension is beyond what many had been prepared for given that the exchange was not done in an overtly hostile or aggressive manner.