News & Media

Busch sees changes as result of radio tirade at RIR

May 06, 2011, David Caraviello,

DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Saturday night at Richmond, Kurt Busch railed against his team and organization in a series of scathing and often profane exchanges over the radio. Friday at Darlington Raceway, he started to see some changes as a result.

"This week here at the race track, I see four engineers I've never seen at the track, ever," said Busch, who drives the No. 22 car for Penske Racing. "I've seen them at the shop, but they're here at the track now."

"We've just, in my mind, seen things deteriorate, and I've held it in, held in it. ... We need to make sure that egos get put aside."


It was part of what Busch termed a restructuring in the wake of his explicit release of pent-up frustration at Richmond, where he finished a season-worst 22nd. Difficult as those radio communications may have been to listen to, Busch said they made public lingering frustrations over the slipping performances of his vehicles, and forced the Penske organization to do something about it.

"I feel like we've made great adjustments with what we're doing internally, and that's to understand how to build a better car," said Busch, who crashed after blowing a tire in Friday's rain-abbreviated practice and will race in a backup car Saturday night. "There's been great feedback, and everybody's listening. Yeah, it wasn't the best forum to go out there on Saturday night and talk about things. We've just, in my mind, seen things deteriorate, and I've held it in, held in it, and it wasn't the right spot to do so. Now with people listening, I think we're going to make some good strides. ... We need the cars more competitive, and we know that."

Busch said things began to slump last summer, after he swept the Sprint All-Star race and Coca-Cola 600 in consecutive weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway to establish himself as an apparent championship contender. But he felt his team "missed it" implementing a new chassis, and the result was a gradual slump that left the 2004 series champion 11th in final points. This year he was the series leader as recently as after the late February race at Las Vegas, but came to Darlington in sixth.

"If you go back and research some of those races [in late 2010], you'll find out we didn't run in the top 15. We were scrambling to get up to that top 15," he said. "Just like Texas this year, we finished 10th. Well, we finished 10th because we were off-sequence. We didn't run in the top 15 all day. We haven't run in the top 15 in quite some time. When you see the writing on the wall, that's when you can talk about it. ... When you're leading the points six weeks ago and you're sixth in points now, that's one [position] each week that you're losing."

Busch said the issues at Penske aren't just limited to him. Teammate Brad Keselowski hasn't finished better than 15th all season. Busch added that he hasn't really been challenged by a teammate since Ryan Newman was last in the Penske stable in 2007.

"Things just move slowly sometimes. When you see things from the cockpit, you realize how fast things go, where you're struggling, and if it's a common theme," Busch said. "And yet, you're continuing to knock on the same door and nothing's happening, then there's issues. We need to make sure that egos get put aside. For me, I'm open and willing to talk to anybody, or listen to what needs to happen. I feel like we have a great forum now with the way things have been opened up this week. It's not just getting pushed under a rug now."