Kurt Busch seeing sports psychologist
LAS VEGAS -- Kurt Busch is working with a sports psychologist to help him with anger issues that led to a $50,000 fine by NASCAR after the final Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Busch also is looking for a new crew chief that will "be able to put me back in my box if I get out of it.''
"This is banquet week,'' Busch said after Thursday's awards luncheon, where NASCAR presents many of the competition and industry awards that won't be mentioned during Friday's banquet honoring champion Tony Stewart. "It's neat to be here to celebrate.
"But yes, we've got things to fix.''
Working with a sports psychologist I've gotten a small grasp, but there's obviously bigger things I have to accomplish. Things can't happen overnight.” -- Kurt Busch
Busch was fined after the finale for making an obscene hand gesture after his transmission broke early, and for a profanity-laced tirade at ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch and his camera crew that went viral on YouTube.
Those incidents came on the heels of Busch having to be restrained from a NASCAR.com reporter following the 26th race at Richmond. At that same race he tore a reporter's interview transcript in half after being questioned about recorded comments that he denied making.
Asked if his sessions with the sports psychologist dealt with anger issues, Busch said, "It's personal, of course. Working with a sports psychologist I've gotten a small grasp, but there's obviously bigger things I have to accomplish. Things can't happen overnight.''
Busch said he doesn't believe former crew chief Steve Addington's decision to leave the team had as much to do with his behavior as it did Addington being offered to become Stewart's crew chief.
Busch mentioned Darian Grubb, who led Stewart to five wins over the final 10 races, as a possible replacement for Addington. Grubb said he was weighing options from several teams and did not rule out working with Busch.
But Busch said the most likely scenario is his new pit boss will be hired from within Penske Racing.
"I need somebody that respects what I've done but also can control me in a way that is also positive,'' the 2004 Cup champion said. "I need to be a better person on the radio, to the team, as a leader. I'm actually working with a sports psychologist to try to help me work through that."
Busch said his reaction at Homestead came in part from realizing he would finish 11th in points -- only the top 10 drivers are recognized at Friday's banquet -- and that a piece from his transmission went through the grill of Stewart's car, which could have cost Stewart the title.
Stewart rallied from that incident to win the race and the championship, beating Carl Edwards in a tiebreaker.
Busch said he was unaware that the motorcade of SUVs at which he directed the obscene gesture at Homestead contained first lady Michelle Obama, who attended the race to honor the military.
"My car was dead,'' Busch said. "I didn't have any power to move forward. There was all of these SUVs parked in front of our garage. I was trying to get in there so my crew could work on our car. I didn't know who it was or what was going on.
"I (also) was realizing at that moment that I was 11th in points.''
Busch's sponsor, Shell Pennzoil, publicly reprimanded Busch for his behavior in a statement. Asked if he feared he might lose his job if there is another incident, Busch said, "Obviously, it wasn't a good situation at Homestead and the way that things developed.''
"As the sponsors are concerned, yes they're agitated about what happened at Homestead,'' Busch added. "But looking forward we can find better things.''
While he won't be honored on stage Friday, Busch said he plans to attend the banquet and celebrate Stewart's title.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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