My Brain on NASCAR: Opportunity knocks louder for winners

In the world of stock car racing, at what point does talent trump trouble, or vice versa?

Two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) drivers in particular have made major headlines over the past several months, in ways that were far from positive. The first and probably the most high-profile is Kurt Busch.

It is difficult to write a brief bio on Busch, because he has accomplished a great deal in a short time. He began racing fulltime in the Cup Series in 2001, winning four races in 2002 and another four in 2003. In 2004, he became the first driver in history to win the championship under the newly-implemented Chase for the Sprint Cup format. At the awards banquet in New York City, Busch’s mentor and teammate Mark Martin referred to him as “the most talented young race car driver I have ever seen.” That’s pretty high praise.

Busch’s career has mostly been characterized by controversy. Roush Fenway fired him in 2005 after he was pulled over on suspicion of drunk driving by an Arizona deputy; he was subsequently cited for reckless driving. He then moved to Penske Racing, where his notoriously short temper and tendency to have a vulgar mouth were showcased time and again on national television. At the end of the 2011 season he was “released” from his Penske contract.

This year, he has been the driver for underfunded Phoenix Racing. The season has been fraught with on-track incidents and continued verbal outbursts, including a suspension for swearing publicly. But despite many people believing it could never happen again, a viable team has given Kurt a job. Next week at Charlotte Motor Speedway, he will move to Furniture Row Racing, replacing driver Regan Smith.

“Furniture Row Racing has the commitment, talent and resources to compete at a high level in the Sprint Cup Series,” Busch said after the announcement on Sept. 24. “I have watched with admiration how this team has grown over the years and that is why I am excited about the opportunity as I eagerly look forward to a new chapter in my racing career.”

This is an opinion column, so here’s my opinion. During my years at Darlington Raceway, I dealt with Busch many times. Thanks to that door-banging battle with Ricky Craven in 2003, he is probably the most famous race loser in NASCAR history, and we promoted that fact. Kurt was never anything but gracious, accommodating and – a description you don’t often hear applied to him – a really good sport. He may have issues – who doesn’t? – but he’s not a bad guy.

The fact that we almost expect to hear reports of various drug scandals in other professional sports, but are shocked when it happens in stock car racing, is both a compliment to NASCAR and a sorry state of affairs.

Allmendinger’s NASCAR career path has been similar to Busch’s, although not nearly as successful or flamboyant. Like Kurt, AJ started out in the Truck Series before moving to a fulltime Cup Series job with Red Bull Racing in 2007 and then spending a couple of seasons with Richard Petty Motorsports. After Busch and Penske Racing parted company, Allmendinger was hired as the driver of the No. 22 Dodge, which he described as his “dream job.”

The dream ended in July, when Allmendinger was indefinitely suspended from NASCAR after testing positive for a banned substance, and then was released from his Penske contract a week later. He has since completed NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program and his driving privileges have been reinstated. To date no announcement has been made about his future prospects, but it is interesting to note that his name has come up as one of the possible candidates for the Phoenix Racing seat after Busch’s departure.

Allmendinger, who is 30, has zero Cup Series wins on his resume so far. Kurt Busch is 34 years old and has won 24 NSCS races and a championship. One’s name has been tainted by a drug scandal, while the other is well-known for emotional volatility.

The multimillion-dollar question on the table is this: If you’re a big business looking for a driver to sponsor, who would you choose? How much would the potential for success override your concerns and affect your decision?

It remains to be seen whether this Furniture Row deal will be a “three strikes and you’re out” situation or a “third time’s the charm” turnaround. The point is that someone was willing to give Kurt Busch another chance.

Will the same apply to AJ Allmendinger? I hope so, but I’m really not sure.

Comments

comments

Chants wrap up preseason practices with scrimmage

Chants wrap up preseason practices with scrimmageCoastal Carolina's football team concluded preseason workouts with a controlled [more]

Socastee drops comeback defeat to West Brunswick

Socastee drops comeback defeat to West BrunswickSocastee saw a two-touchdown advantage turn into a two-TD deficit [more]

Hemingway helps Loris hold off pesky St. James

Hemingway helps Loris hold off pesky St. JamesThe St. James football team had a good game plan [more]

Chiefs shock Tigers with last-second touchdown

Chiefs shock Tigers with last-second touchdownThe first game of the high school football season may [more]

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 1 Seahawks seek titles

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 1 Seahawks seek titlesMyrtle Beach football coach Mickey Wilson isn't normally one for [more]

Weatherwax looks to build on CF program's progress

Weatherwax looks to build on CF program's progressJackson Weatherwax grew up playing football at Pepper Geddings Recreation [more]

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 2 Chiefs set for encore

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 2 Chiefs set for encoreIn his first year as head football coach at North [more]

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 3 Panthers growing up

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 3 Panthers growing upEditor’s Note: GSSR, in conjunction with My Horry News, is [more]

Week 0 Preview and Picks: Chiefs-Tigers open season

Week 0 Preview and Picks: Chiefs-Tigers open seasonAll summer long Grand Strand residents have put up with [more]

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 4 Tigers try rebuilding

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 4 Tigers try rebuildingEditor’s Note: GSSR, in conjunction with My Horry News, is [more]

CF grad Beale follows in Keane's footsteps to CCU

CF grad Beale follows in Keane's footsteps to CCUMatt Beale always rooted for Tyler Keane. As a middle school [more]

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 5 Braves look to reload

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 5 Braves look to reloadEditor’s Note: GSSR, in conjunction with My Horry News, is [more]

Steele deals shutout win, Pelicans top Rocks in series

Steele deals shutout win, Pelicans top Rocks in seriesJustin Steele did not allow a hit until the sixth [more]

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 6 St. James on the rise

Countdown to Kickoff Poll: No. 6 St. James on the riseEditor's Note: GSSR, in conjunction with My Horry News, is [more]

Lady Chants shut out Elon, open regular season Friday

Lady Chants shut out Elon, open regular season FridayMackenzie Gibbs scored in the second half to push Coastal [more]

Pelicans strand 11 on base in one-run defeat to Rocks

Pelicans strand 11 on base in one-run defeat to Rocks Despite a three-hit, two-RBI night from Jared Young , the [more]

Big night for small schools at wild CNB Kickoff Classic

Big night for small schools at wild CNB Kickoff ClassicFriday's CNB Kickoff Classic proved to be a big night [more]

Pelicans snap seven-game losing skid over Blue Rocks

Pelicans snap seven-game losing skid over Blue Rocks Behind three home runs in a five-run third inning, the [more]

Busch takes turn to Strand to open school, race fans

Busch takes turn to Strand to open school, race fansNASCAR driver Kyle Busch cut the ribbon for the Palmetto [more]

Ready or not, Strand teams play in CNB Kickoff Classic

Ready or not, Strand teams play in CNB Kickoff ClassicLast year's CNB Kickoff Classic was rained out, spoiling the [more]

Dogs, cornhole, fireworks mark Pelicans' promotions

Dogs, cornhole, fireworks mark Pelicans' promotionsThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans have only 10 home games remaining [more]

Lady Chants kick off 2018 with shutout over Citadel

Lady Chants kick off 2018 with shutout over CitadelThe Coastal Carolina women’s soccer team opened the 2018 season [more]

Pelicans losing skid grows to seven in defeat to Dash

Pelicans losing skid grows to seven in defeat to DashThe Myrtle Beach Pelicans were handed their season-worst seventh consecutive [more]

Green's departure leaves NMB seeking new coach

Green's departure leaves NMB seeking new coachNorth Myrtle Beach High is looking for its third boys [more]

Coastal favored to defend Sun Belt volleyball crown

Coastal favored to defend Sun Belt volleyball crownThe Coastal Carolina volleyball team – defending Sun Belt champions [more]

Chants wrap up preseason practices with scrimmage

Chants wrap up preseason practices with scrimmageCoastal Carolina's football team concluded preseason workouts with a controlled [more]

Socastee drops comeback defeat to West Brunswick

Socastee drops comeback defeat to West BrunswickSocastee saw a two-touchdown advantage turn into a two-TD deficit [more]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2018 Grand Strand Sports Report · RSS
Myrtle Beach Web Design
Kayaking in Myrtle Beach