CONCORD, N.C. – Kurt Busch was on his best behavior for the first 10 races of the season, but the emotional meltdowns that led to firings at Roush Fenway Racing and Penske Racing returned in the closing laps of last Saturday night’s race at the Darlington Raceway.
Busch was fined $50,000 Tuesday by NASCAR and placed on probation until July 25 after he sped through Ryan Newman’s pit stall at the end of the race and running into Newman’s car on pit road after the race.
Busch was running in the top 10 in the final 10 laps when his Chevrolet bounced off the third and fourth turn walls. Busch made a late pit stop for a flat tire, and he did a burnout through Newman’s pit stall while leaving the pits while several of Newman’s crew members were still on pit road.
Busch told Newman after the race he accidentally ran into him because he was taking his helmet off and not paying attention.
After the race Busch rear-ended Newman on pit road while NASCAR officials battled to separate both crews.
Busch’s newest problem comes as car owner James Finch struggles to find sponsorship for his No. 51 Chevrolet.
Craig Stickler, one of Busch’s crewmen, and Andrew Rueger, a crewman for Newman, were fined $5,000 each and placed on probation for their roles in the post-race scuffle.
NASCAR enhances racing with more changes
Starting this week, there will be several changes to cars to make passing easier.
The side of the cars will be raised by one inch to allow more air under the car – and reduce aerodynamic downforce. Air deflectors used at the Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway will be used at the California Speedway, Michigan Speedway, Pocono Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
By removing downforce, drivers will have to rely more on braking than downforce. That will put a lot more of the car’s success in the hands of the drivers, not engineers.
Everyone was led to believe Matt Kenseth’s car number was about to change after Roush Fenway Racing sent out a release saying he would have a new number.
In what became a clever sleight of hand, the announcement Monday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame was to announce the addition of Fifth Third Bank as a sponsor for four races this year.
His car number will remain the same No. 17 he’s had in all but one of his 447 career starts.