NASCAR, Kurt Busch and Shrunken Heads

It's OK...I'm all better now.

It’s OK…I’m all better now.

If ever a racing driver in history deserved inclusion in the rare but fabled “Lazarus Syndrome” files, it would be Kurt Busch. He’s had more dead careers resurrected than Fatty Arbuckle.

I will be the first to admit that I was wrong as to how the sponsors and NASCAR would treat him after his very public wrangling’s with Patricia Driscoll. You won’t hear me admit that I’m wrong very often. But when I am, I am.

Busch not only was brought back into the NASCAR fold, under considerable public pressure I might add, but he has put himself right back into the limelight as a contender week in and week out. He will win a race, or more likely several, as the 2015 Sprint Cup season rolls along.

He may not have been a favorite for Tony Stewart or his teammates, but Gene Haas didn’t need their permission to place him in the team. How many zeros are behind a number are in direct proportion as to how well an idea or endeavor is received. Right Gene Haas looks like a genius.

Busch has managed to overcome a great deal of adversity, most of it self inflicted, to place himself in the position of being very self-controlled and still aggressive on the track. I’m sure there is shrunken head tacked to a wall with a medical moniker attached to it in a Psychiatrist office somewhere.

The question that will remain for quite some time is can he keep it up? It surely hasn’t escaped anyone who is kind enough to read this opinion is that when he’s interviewed or challenged in any way his responses are very deliberate and almost mechanical. That’s not a bad thing; perhaps it represents the first steps in the ‘Road to Recovery’.

Samantha Busch could probably modify any man's behavior.

Samantha Busch could probably modify any man’s behavior.

I would venture to say, and this is just an opinion, that he is under psychiatric or psychological care on a regular basis that includes behavior modification. Let’s face it, after a certain point in our lives, people do not have fundamental personality changes but behavior modification is a legitimate course of action to those who have detrimental behaviors. Busch would qualify on that one.

Speaking today with a close associate, Bill Marlowe, the subject of Kyle Busch came up as it relates to his brother. It’s obvious that Kyle’s behavior and general mental attitude has taken a major step toward the good. Perhaps, as Bill pointed out, there is a reason.

It is probably no accident that Kyle’s behavior is in no small part due to the fact that his wife has a Masters Degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology. What is that? Here’s the short answer: “Industrial organizational psychology is the branch of psychology that applies psychological theories and principles to organizations. Often referred to as I-O psychology, this field focuses on increasing workplace productivity and related issues such as the physical and mental well being of employees.”

I would think that if the Busch’s have any familial regard for one another then Kyle’s wife may have played a substantial role in convincing NASCAR to let psychological intervention play into brother-in-law Kurt’s remediation back into the field.

Whatever the case it certainly seems to be working on all fronts. Kurt is giving Kevin Harvick a run for his money, SHR seems to have a shot of at least two cars making the Chase and I have actually admitted I was wrong about Kurt having a career left in motorsports.

I suppose all is right with the world.

NASCAR: Daytona 500 and Bandicoots On Acid

A jubilant Joey Logano celebrates his Daytona 500 win.

A jubilant Joey Logano celebrates his Daytona 500 win.

This past Sunday the 57th Daytona 500 was held and Joey Logano can finally be comfortable with the “Sliced Bread” moniker given him several years ago.

It was a strong indication that Penske Racing is going to be a factor in 2015 and is the default ‘Factory’ team for Ford.

The weeks leading up to the storied event, however, weren’t so kind to NASCAR.

A change in the qualifying was in order and NASCAR certainly changed it, to the chagrin and openly critical display of the drivers.

To NASCAR’s credit something had to be done. Three hours to qualify for a race is simply too long and takes up far too much valuable broadcast air time leaving a potentially new audience who might tune in to the marathon with a feeling of boredom.

“If qualifying is this boring how much more interesting could the race be” was the comment that I heard most. The problem was that NASCAR simply isn’t Formula One and can’t use a knockout style format with the same level of execution, there are simply too many cars and too many desperate drivers to not have carnage. Carnage they had.

Kyle Busch did not walk away from this crash.

Kyle Busch did not walk away from this crash.

As posted in a previous article our technical expert, Bill Marlowe, suggested the following format, which is worth repeating:

(1) Have all 48-50 cars line up diagonally on pit road.

(2) Each qualifying group would consist of no more than 8-10 cars

(3) In a blind draw, the first 10 cars are selected 5, maybe 8 minutes before they run. This ultimately gives a total of about 5-6 groups.

(4) In a second tandem blind draw, each car selected is given its starting position from pit road.

(5) The 1st ten cars have 5 minutes to line up on pit road.

(6) When the signal is given to go, group 1 has 5 minutes to accelerate, get up to speed and set a time.

(7) While the 1st group is out the blind draw process repeats itself.

(8) While the 1st group is on its cool down lap and coming to pit lane the 2nd group is already being released.

This format would take approximately one hour allowing for any engine failures, crashes or debris on track stoppages.

"The Lunatics Are in the Hall"- Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon

“The Lunatics Are in the Hall”- Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon

Let’s hope that something is changed for Talladega.

On Saturday Kyle Busch, during the Xfinity race, exited the racing surface and laterally contacted an inside retaining wall that did not have the advantage of a safer barrier. He broke his left leg and his ankle. He’s fortunate not to have lost his life.

You have to believe that the only reason there wasn’t a safer barrier in place is that NASCAR has become so large in its bureaucracy that by committee it couldn’t have foreseen such an accident. That’s what happens when delegating authority too quickly or by committee is employed. After all, the wall was certainly in place for the next day.

How hard was that? Not as hard as Busch’s crash.

Then comes the story that had everyone from TMZ to Al-Jazeera writing about it. Kurt Busch’s indefinite suspension from NASCAR due to a restraining order obtained from his ex-girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll.

It’s no secret that Kurt Busch has an anger problem. It’s no secret that NASCAR really has no warm and fuzzy feelings for the elder Busch. It’s no secret that by all outward appearances, both he and Driscoll are crazier than a pair of Bandicoot’s on acid.

However, it seems that NASCAR does, from time to time, exact revenge on it’s detractors or troublemakers. Travis Kvapil really screwed up. He plead guilty of domestic abuse and was given probation and no disciplinary punishment handed down by NASCAR.

Again, NASCAR may have had every reason, and they certainly have the right, to kick Busch to the curb.

It does seem, however, on the surface, to be a bit hypocritical. Maybe yes, maybe no. No one can argue that domestic abuse is both unacceptable and appalling, but how often is it used for revenge? Often enough.

How easy is it to manipulate the courts? Damned easy many times.

Having been a witness in a Florida Capital Case I can tell you that what you hear in a courtroom is not necessarily what happened. Truth becomes an abstract. I watched a very guilty person walk away.

But this is NASCAR and not a courtroom. They are a private, not a public company.

They have stabilized, to a large degree, their loss of viewership. Perhaps not the actual attendees to the race, they may never return, but NASCAR and it’s cadre’ of high paid lawyers weren’t going to take the chance that Kurt Busch could, and he certainly could have, won the Daytona 500 only to be charged with a crime later on.

Ms. Driscoll has exacted her pound of flesh, for now, NASCAR has saved face in the American public’s eyes and there is now a safer barrier where there should have been one all along.

The Daytona 500 went off without a hitch and perhaps NASCAR has listened to the suggestions of others erudite in technical matters regarding qualifying on large tracks such as Daytona and Talladega.

Oh, and Joy Logano won his first Daytona 500 with authority.

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