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Penske's Busch working with sports psychologist

December 01, 2011, Mark Aumann,

LAS VEGAS -- Driver expects to start fresh, not only with a new attitude but with new crew chief

Kurt Busch is hoping continuing sessions with a sports psychologist will not only help him refocus his efforts inside the cockpit, but will perhaps alleviate some of the issues he's had after climbing out of it.

Following Thursday's Myers Brothers luncheon at the Bellagio, Busch said the biggest lesson he's taking from his therapy is the importance of not letting frustrations with car or crew get the best of him.

"I need to harness what happens in the race car and keep it there. "


"You can work 364 days on being positive and building a better platform, and it can take just one day to knock it all back," Busch said. "I need to harness what happens in the race car and keep it there. Then I need to step out of the car and do a better job to understand that if we didn't reach our goal for that day or that moment, that it's going to be all right at the end."

That was never more evident than in his final three races of 2011. He had fuel economy issues at Texas and Phoenix, then broke a transmission early in the season finale at Homestead. As a YouTube video then showed, Busch appeared to take his frustrations out on a television pit reporter.

That was the final straw for NASCAR, which fined Busch $50,000 fine for what the sanctioning body said was a series of transgressions. Busch said he's well-aware it's something he needs to address in the future.

"And working with a sports psychologist, I've gotten a small grasp," Busch said. "But there's obviously bigger things that I have to accomplish, and things can't happen overnight."

When Busch looks back at his 2011 season, he sees more positives than negatives.

"[We had] four trips to Victory Lane when we started off the year with a new sponsor, a new number and a new look," Busch said. "We won at Sonoma. We won a Chase race at Dover. We were nine points out of the lead three races into the Chase. That's the season that I think of. I don't think of those last three races."

Busch expects to start fresh, not only with a new attitude but with a new crew chief. Steve Addington left at the end of the season for Stewart-Haas Racing. And that means Penske management is in the market for someone who can work to Busch's strengths.

"I'm really excited about what the future can bring and who we're going to find is something who's going to be the right team leader, not just for me but for everybody involved," Busch said.

"We've got over-the-wall guys that need to have more of a harnessed control of an effort. Our pit crew coach is over on the No. 2 car, so our pit crew guys are still wandering around a little bit on what exactly has to happen every pit stop."

Despite all the controversy, Busch said he's not feeling any additional pressure from the organization or his sponsor. He knows what he has to do to improve, both mentally and physically. And he knows what steps need to be taken to get there.

"Looking forward, we have to find a crew chief," Busch said. "We have to get better on pit stops. And from the sponsor's concern -- yes, they're agitated about what occurred at Homestead, but looking forward, we can find better things.

Watch Kurt Busch's 2011 Chase highlights below: