Jeff Burton: Outbursts hurt sport

Updated: June 7, 2012, 1:45 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Reaction to Kurt Busch's one-race suspension for threatening comments made to a reporter after Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Dover has been mixed among fellow Sprint Cup drivers.

Three-time champion Tony Stewart defended Busch's comments, made to Bob Pockrass of Sporting News, that his probation for a May 12 incident at Darlington kept him from "not beating the sh-- out of you right now because you ask me stupid questions."

"I'll be honest, I liked [Busch's] answer," Stewart said Tuesday on Sirius XM NASCAR radio. "I kind of thought it was good when it pertains to Bob Pockrass. Bob's a decent guy. But there's just so many good things to write about in our sport.

Busch
Busch

"There's a couple of reporters that strictly want to be tabloid journalists. Unfortunately, he's one of them."

Jeff Burton took the opposite stance when asked on Wednesday about Busch's comments before Stewart's charity race at Eldora Speedway.

"Kurt's talent is unquestioned," Burton said of the 2004 Cup champion. "Kurt's instinct to step away last winter to get his head on straight and come back was probably correct. I think our sport needs people like Kurt, but when Kurt is good Kurt.

"When he does things like this past weekend, that's not good for him, our sport or anybody."

Busch reached a "mutual agreement" to separate from Penske Racing after the 2011 season shortly after he received a $50,000 fine from NASCAR for a profanity-laced tirade aimed at ESPN reporter Jerry Punch at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

The fine followed several other flare-ups with the media over a four-month period.

Busch landed a ride with underfunded Phoenix Racing for this season while trying to find a spot with a top team for 2013. Phoenix Racing team owner James Finch said he will decide over the next few days if he continues his relationship with Busch for the rest of this season.

"If he's going to kill himself, I'm not going to be in the airplane with him," Finch told ESPN.com. "If that's what he's planning on doing, I am going to get out."

Among the teams reportedly interested in Busch for 2013 is RCR, which fields Burton's No. 31 car. Burton isn't sure how many more chances Busch will get.

"We all have weaknesses," Burton said. "One of his weaknesses is knowing when to shut up. I think he can get it together. I think he can. He's going to have to do it. If not, his chances eventually will run out.

"His talent level will offer him more opportunities than it would someone who hasn't proved they could do it. But at some point those opportunities will run out."

Busch admitted he had issues after last season and that he was getting professional help with anger management.

"At some point, he has to draw a line in the sand," Burton said. "He hasn't shown the ability to do that yet. At the beginning of the year, he showed ... he has an issue he needs to get worked on. He's letting himself down. That's what is sad about it. Kurt's not a bad guy.

"Kurt's been destructive to himself."

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

ALSO SEE