Penske says Busch has his support despite incident
LONG POND, Pa. -- Roger Penske certainly didn't condone driver Kurt Busch's temper tantrum last weekend at Dover International Speedway, and he acknowledges Busch let his emotions endanger a competitor. But Penske's a racer, he understands and respects the emotional overload on-track competition can produce. So all said, he fully supports his driver.
"In my situation as a car owner, I looked at what happened last weekend and the biggest disappointment I have is that I wasn't there to maybe keep that situation [from happening] on the pit lane," Penske said Sunday at Pocono Raceway.
"Unfortunately Kurt took the frustrations that he had on the racetrack and made a move, which in the eyes of the sport was the wrong move, in my eyes it was the wrong move. But on the other hand, I've got to be supportive and not walk away from a guy that maybe made a mistake. I've made mistakes.
"You always look back and say, 'Why did I put myself in that position?' But these are high-strung guys on the racetrack. Unfortunately that situation took place. Kurt has a great talent in driving and I think this is a time he checked out on using his head and moved into a situation that put him at risk."
Busch pulled up alongside Tony Stewart on pit road to speak his mind about an on-track incident, forcing Stewart jackman Jason Lee to scramble atop the No. 20 to avoid Busch's No. 2.
Penske said he and Busch met with team executives midweek to discuss the severity of the meltdown, namely what it projected internally and externally. Penske suggested that Busch rally his team, advice the driver heeded.
"They're the ones that go to war with you, and Kurt spent some real quality time with his crew on Thursday, and you saw how hard they worked to get a car ready for him to go qualifying [after the primary car was totaled in practice]," Penske said.
One thing is clear: Penske does not want his driver to suppress any aggression on the track.
"We're going to try to keep our nose clean," he said. "I told him he's got to be a race driver. You can't drive around the track not being a race driver. I'm going to continue to support him. The team's going to support him. And I think that we've got to move on."
Penske said he's not one to opine about the severity of pending penalties, and he didn't contact NASCAR about what he thought would the an appropriate course of action in this instance. The team accepted the penalties -- 100 driver points and a $100,000 fine for Busch and 100 owner points for Penske -- and will not appeal "in any way, shape or form."
"What he's done since he's driven for us -- he's been pretty cool," Penske said. "When we signed him up, first thing, word was he got a DUI, which was not the case at all. That was a cloud we had to work our way out of for quite a bit of time.
"I think we've done that. I think the safety issues are paramount in racing, whether it's on the track, in the pits, in the garage area, where it might be."
Marty Smith covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.
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