How will the Busch Brothers reality show unfold for 2012?

Kurt and Kyle Busch awaiting qualifying
For the Sprint Cup Series in June 2010 at Pocono
(Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images)
For race fans the reality show of the Busch Brothers in NASCAR never ceases to amaze whether you are a fan or not.  Fans of Kurt and Kyle focus on their obvious on-track talent and drive to win, while others focus more on their unchecked anger management issues.  However, even some long time Busch fans are embarrassed with what occurred in 2011 with both brothers, and some are looking for another driver to call their favorite. But, everyone agrees Kurt and Kyle are extraordinarily talented with their driving skills in NASCAR’s elite series’.  And race fans will be tuning in next season to watch their story continue to unfold. 

With the 2011 season now in the rear view mirror, Kurt and Kyle now find themselves in a career-critical position and their choices moving forward will make or break their dreams of a future within the NASCAR world.  Kyle’s moment of truthcame during the fall race weekend in Texas with his intentional wreck with championship contender Ron Hornaday.  Kurt was forced to face his demons in the wake of the final race of the season in Homestead when a fan video-recorded his profanity-laced frustration toward Dr. Jerry Punch because of a delayed interview.  The video went viral and Kurt’s fate was ultimately revealed quickly after champions’ week in Las Vegas.



Kyle Busch sitting out the Sprint Cup Race
at Texas Motor Speedway 2011
(NASCAR Photo)
While Kyle’s fate lay in the hands of his owner with Joeand JD Gibbs expertly managing their way to an agreement with disappointed sponsors to keep them and Kyle within their stable, it is also clear that Kyle’s issues must be addressed going forward.  In fact, reports indicate JGR is requesting Kyle to not race in Truck series and perhaps even the Nationwide races for the 2012 season, to reduce the chance of another loose cannon episode.  Whether Kyle will heed the advice and suggestion of his owner is yet to be determined and undoubtedly fans will stay tuned, to find out what happens next with Kyle.

Brother Kurt, on the other hand has now been shown the door with two top-tier NASCAR teams.  In 2005 Kurt, the Sprint Cup Champion of 2004 was forced out of the final two races of the season after being stopped for suspicion of drunken driving, cited for reckless driving and subsequently belligerently berating the police in Phoenix. This episode ended with Roush Racing’s then team president, Geoff Smith proclaiming, we’re “officially retiring as Kurt Busch’s apologists.” 



Kurt Busch burned the bridge with
Roush and Penske Racing Teams
(Ashley Dickerson/ASP Inc/Icon SM)
And now again, with a “mutual agreement” for his departure from Penske Racing, most fans know that Kurt’s behavior did not fit with the Penske organization professional policies.  Many fans understand that Kurt did not independently choose to leave his team, especially following a series of statements from Penske and sponsors of the #22 team indicating their disappointment with Kurt’s behavior at Homestead. Along with the departure of Kurt’s crew chief, Steve Addington, after a season of verbal abuse from the driver, more than likely the final straws fell breaking the bond for the Penske organization.  And while Roger Penske was supportive of Kurt Busch even in the end with the “mutual agreement” statements, there is a limit to how much unprofessionalism and verbal abuse any organization will tolerate when it’s costing more than they are gaining. And yes, it was obvious to anyone paying attention that Kurt was not a happy camper in the 2011 season.  And yes, it was evident he wasn’t having much fun in the #22 car a good part of the time.  So, it’s not hard to believe Kurt when he says he wasn’t having fun at Penske.
 
Kurt Busch celebrating a race win
(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
What is hard to believe, however, is why Kurt doesn’t see the real reason behind his bad behavior. If you were paying attention to his part of this reality show, it’s apparent that Kurt was dealing with some major stress from some source, and perhaps his divorce was more influence than he cares to admit. Instead of dealing with his stress and the cause of his stress, Kurt chose to blame Penske, Addington, his crew, the car, indirectly Dr. Punch, anyone and everyone, except himself.  And while there may have been some real issues with the car, pit strategy, and perhaps even organizationally, Kurt’s reaction to those issues overshadow and inhibit real progress in addressing those concerns.  Stated in other words, similar to Kyle’s issues, Kurt is his own worst enemy in achieving his desire to win more races and contend for a championship. In reality, only Kyle and Kurt stand in the way of achieving their goals vs. everyone else they tend to blame for their unfortunate circumstances.  They are now saying they are taking accountability for their actions, but some fans are not so sure.

Kyle Busch waving to fans at Richmond 2011
(Photo – Associated Press)
Although fans can see the big picture of how Kurt and Kyle’s personal behavior have led them to this point, some are just not convinced that either of them is really taking ownership of their actions and consequences…yet.  Sure, both have said they are taking action to address their issues.  But, unfortunately, it’s not the first time hearing those words from either brother.  Many fans, perhaps not all, have experienced the disappointment in being fooled by their “charade of change.” How many times have fans heard about the “new” Kyle Busch or of those not sure if they would be dealing with the “old” or “new” Kyle at any given moment? Unfortunately, the same can be said of older brother Kurt.

As a NASCAR fan, finding out that Kurt’s behavior with Dr. Punch was typical of what many in the media have experienced at one time or another was disappointing and more importantly, disturbing.  Hearing that bad behavior had become “accepted” as what to potentially expect from either brother was a painful reality to learn. This sounded eerily similar to an abused spouse speaking of their loved one, and defending the dysfunction in their family. Some in the media even defended the bad behavior as a symptom of celebrity stress

Folks, it’s time to be real honest here.  One’s celebrity and the stress that co-exists with it do not give anyone the right to verbally abuse another individual. No one should be subjected to verbal abuse by anyone at any time and it certainly should not be an accepted point of view nor should it continue for an indefinite period of time without resolution. The dysfunction within the NASCAR family is now exposed for all to see the reality of acceptability for bad behavior. As any compassionate human being to another, fans want to see this dysfunction addressed in a positive way to benefit all.

Mount Cope Website describes emotional abuse
Many ask why is it different for the Busch brothers compared to others that have expressed their frustrations over the many years of NASCAR’s existence.  The answer is two-fold.  First, as a society we have evolved to a greater realization of the damage that results from this type of abusive behavior. The damage not only affects the abused, but the very nature of the abuse is a symptom indicating there are some personal issues that need to be addressed so the abuser can reform their perspective and future behavior. We know that ignoring the problem does nothing to address those issues and enables the bad behavior to perpetuate and ultimately diminish the lives of all involved.
 
Change bad habits by adopting positive and
empowering habits that will bring what you want in life
Millionaire Secrets Website gives some great tips
to help with your new year resolutions
For the second point, I’m reminded of my High School chemistry teacher addressing excuses for not completing homework assignments in a timely manner.  The point made by this teacher is something that has held true for many situations throughout the years and certainly appropriate for this situation.  At the beginning of the school year, this teacher told students the guideline used to address repeat offenders.  “The first offense is considered an accident inconsistent with usual behavior.  The second offense just might be a coincidence and will be forgiven.  However, if the same offense occurs a third time, it is now considered a bad habit. And bad habits need to be addressed.” 


Such is the case for the Busch brothers.  They have established their bad habit with repeated offenses which are now indefensible. Denying the problem, and blaming others is only further evidence the problem exists and  an indication of resistance to change. Those showing resistance to change often require a startling wake-up call and professional support to make a personal commitment to change their lives for the better.  One great outcome from a successful experience in breaking bad habits and creating new healthy habits, is that past offenders often make great spokespersons to help others recognize, commit and change, thus benefiting many others with the similar challenges.

Recent attempts at public relations spin are evidence to some that Kurt is still in a bit of denial. Many fans and media personalities do not buy his or the Penske organization statement of “mutual agreement” to part ways and at best, find the terminology to be a stretch of the truth. These comments more accurately appear to be supporting Kurt’s own personal need to save face that he’s been booted from his second top tier organization. 

“The King” Richard Petty
(photo – Getty Images)
Furthermore, Kurt has turned down an offer with Richard Petty Motorsports, of which many are all too happy to hear. Upon hearing the news of the potential partnership, many were shocked to hear either party was entertaining the possibility. Most fans cringe to think of Kurt speaking to “The King” as he has spoken to Roger Penske. No one is a fan Kurt’s repeated language of profanity with the Phoenix police, his crew, Steve Addington, Roger Penske or Dr. Jerry Punch and most likely others.  To put Kurt Busch in the position of potentially further debasing himself and this legendary team would be a major mistake for all parties and in the end no one saw this partnership ending well for anyone. While Kurt’s account of turning down the offer is true, fans recognize the positioning actually masks the issue at hand in that sponsor Best Buy ultimately left RPM and potential sponsorship at this late date cannot be limited to those willing to take the risk associated with a driver known as a loose cannon with profanity laced outbursts. 

Based on all that has transpired, Kurt’s next partnership will be the make or break moment of his career. Kurt has chosen to go with owner James Finch of Phoenix Racing and will be the next driver of the #51 car with crew chief Nick Harrison. With the sponsor Rydex SGI, the risk still remains and Kurt cannot afford any outbursts that have haunted his past. Finch’s comments are refreshingly to the point and without the spin, as he says he has talked with Busch about his past. “He lost a job and he’s lost several million dollars, and so I think that’s been a wake-up call. I told him, I said Kurt it’s about winning racing. You need to watch your temper and your mouth,” Finch said. “I hired him for his foot and not his mouth.  Hopefully we can get him controlled. He’s got a long way to come. He’s got to show people he’s going to be a driver. And show NASCAR that he’s a driver, and he’s going to do what’s expected as a driver.” These comments sound as though Finch will not tolerate much of the same problems from Kurt and certainly appears to be a better fit to ensure Kurt makes the behavior changes needed to bring greater success to his career. So again, much like his brother Kyle, the reality is that addressing personal issues is a must for their future within the sport. 

Kurt and Kyle have both been given another chance to prove themselves on a more personal level by addressing their anger management. Both are supported by teams with top-level equipment, keeping in mind that Phoenix Racing has a partnership with Hendrick Motorsports.  Along with their talent, they have every reason to be successful for many years to come, provided they truly meet their challenges head on and address them in a positive manner.  As fans, we “get it” that it won’t necessarily be easy nor will it be without an occasional, and hopefully rare slip backward, but we do have high expectations for a positive outcome.

As with many reality shows, fans relate to the challenges presented, because we have our own problems to cope with and overcome. And this is the time of year to make our own resolutions for change to improve our lives too. Fans want to be personally successful and we pull for others to meet and exceed their challenges too.  The issues may not be exactly the same, but the desire to overcome is the same and it’s why we continue to be invested in watching reality shows play out their stories. 

What will 2012 bring for the Busch Brothers?
The NASCAR Busch Brothers reality show will continue in 2012 and beyond.  Even if you’re not their fan, many people want to see Kurt and Kyle overcome their issues and succeed in their careers. Most like happy endings, especially those rooted in reality.  Fans understand the Busch brothers’ intense desire for winning and acknowledge their talent. Most recognize when these brothers overcome their problems and keep their intensity to win on a positive note, they will be an unstoppable force within the sport. Fans also recognize they have tried and failed more than once to address their anger management issues.

So as we consider our own resolutions and those of the Busch Brothers, there is an element of interest in finding out what happens next for Kurt and Kyle. The importance of their personal attention and commitment to change behavior will be the key that will determine not only the future of their racing careers, but of personal lives as well. Come next year, fans will be tuning in for the next episode of the Busch Brothers reality show with anticipation to find out how their stories continue to unfold within the NASCAR world of racing.

NOTE to Readers: The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author and not intended to represent all NASCAR fans. Although some will agree with this perspective, it is recognized that others will not. For those who disagree with the perspective presented here, you are encouraged to submit a counter-point perspective. Whether you agree or not, everyone is encouraged to respectfully state your view via the comments section below. To submit a count-point article, please see submission details via the SUGGESTION BOX tab. 

As always, Thanks for reading and participating in the Fan4Racing blog site.  
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One thought on “How will the Busch Brothers reality show unfold for 2012?

  1. Good article but you and many that are reporting on Kurt are stating that he was booted twice. That is a bit misleading. He had already signed with Penske which was an obvious betrayal to Roush based on the reactions at the time. Because of that "betrayal" when the incident happened with the police it was just the excuse Roush needed to make an example. Deservedly or not, he left Roush before Roush fired him. All Roush did was deny him seat time to finish the season. Now if your point is that he burned his bridge there then you are absolutely correct but you and many others gloss over how angry Roush was that Kurt signed with Penske in the first place.

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