Kurt Busch suspended until June 13
Kurt Busch's future with Phoenix Racing is in jeopardy after NASCAR suspended the 2004 Sprint Cup champion for this weekend's race at Pocono Raceway.
Busch was suspended for threatening comments made to Sporting News reporter Bob Pockrass following Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Dover International Speedway.
Busch was already on probation for a May 12 incident with Ryan Newman in a Sprint Cup race at Darlington. His suspension runs through June 13, meaning he will be eligible to return for the June 17 race at Michigan.
In a statement, Busch said: "I accept NASCAR's decision. I put them in a box, they had to take action and it's my fault for putting them in this position. I apologize for the comments I made to Bob Pockrass."
Phoenix Racing owner James Finch isn't so sure the driver will return immediately after serving the suspension, saying he will sit down with Busch over the next couple of days to see if they will move forward together.
"If he's going to kill himself I'm not going to be in the airplane with him," Finch told ESPN.com by phone. "If that's what he's planning on doing, I am going to get out."
Finch said he was in the process of looking for a driver to replace Busch for Pocono and possibly beyond. Among the candidates he mentioned were Brian Vickers and David Reutimann, although Reutimann was scheduled to drive the No. 10 for Tommy Baldwin Racing this weekend.
If he's going to kill himself I'm not going to be in the airplane with him. If that's what he's planning on doing, I am going to get out.” -- Phoenix Racing owner James Finch
"We'll get squared away," Finch said. "There are a helluva lot of [drivers] out there."
Busch was placed on probation following Darlington for bumping the back of Newman's car on pit road after the race and for reckless driving while exiting his pit box during the race.
That probation, which was scheduled to end on July 25, has been extended through the end of the season because of Saturday's incident. NASCAR said Busch's actions violated section 12-4 of the rulebook regarding actions detrimental to stock car racing, violations of probation and verbal abuse to a media member.
Busch's outburst on Saturday began when he was asked if his probation impacted the way he handled a racing incident with Justin Allgaier.
"It refrains me from not beating the s--- out of you right now because you ask me stupid questions," Busch told Pockrass, an interview captured on video by Speed. "But because I'm on probation I suppose that's improper to say as well."
This was the latest in a series of attacks on media members by Busch dating back to last season.
He was fined $50,000 following the 2011 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway after delivering an obscene gesture in the direction of the motorcade of First Lady Michelle Obama and a profanity-laced tirade against ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch.
That incident led to Busch being released by Penske Racing, leading him to sign with underfunded Phoenix Racing for 2012. He was in the process of looking for a ride for 2013 with a major team, with Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing expected to be among the contenders.
NASCAR president Mike Helton and vice president of competition Robin Pemberton met with Busch regarding Saturday's comments before Sunday's Cup race at Dover. Officials met again on Monday before announcing the suspension.
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