NASCAR set Busch down until June 13, and extended his probation until the end of 2012, after he threatened a reporter with assault after the Nationwide Series race at Dover last Saturday.
But when he returns to racing a week later at Michigan, in both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series, I guarantee you that nothing will have changed.
He’ll still have the big chip on his shoulder. That spoiled look and the sense of entitlement will still reek off him. The whole world will still be against him, you can bet, and it will only be a matter of time before he goes out and does everything all over again.
But if Mike Helton had called him in, and said he was out of the sport for the rest of the year and to go get some help for whatever it is that’s troubling him, then that might have had an effect.
A weekend here, or a week there, just won’t do it. His enablers – his friends and family who are giving him the "poor Kurt" support he craves – can help him over the hump of a short layoff. But they won’t be of much good for long if he’s looking at next February as the earliest date of a possible return.
When Tim Richmond was obviously ill back in 1988 with the AIDS that eventually killed him, NASCAR was sufficiently concerned about the way he looked and his behaviour (as were many of the drivers of the day) that it suspended him on the pretence that he’d flunked a drug test.
It turned out later that he hadn’t but the point is that NASCAR felt the need to act and came down hard on Richmond. Sooner or later, it’s got be every bit as decisive when it comes to Kurt Busch.
When it comes to big business, you can’t trust anybody – particularly reporters who might be looking for the big scoop.
I happen to think – just a hunch, now; just a hunch – that Bernard, who says an owner or owners has been trying to get him fired, was talked into making the dispute public by somebody who subsequently wrote long and loud about it. He was egged on to launch a pre-emptive strike to quell a rebellion, if you will.
But my immediate reaction upon hearing about the Tweet and reading the first story that followed was: "This is not CART. What have the owners got to do with this? The guy works for the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He doesn’t have to answer to an owner, or owners."
Now, I like Bernard. I think he’s done terrific things for the series in the area of public relations and marketing. He seems like a genuinely nice guy. He’s always been a straight shooter with me.
But I can also understand some of the unhappiness among the owners, because most of those people are not Roger Penske or Chip Ganassi. There are owners in that series who are operating by the skin of their teeth and don’t happen to have several tens or twenties of thousands lying around in cases of emergency.
There are suggestions the Firestone tire deal was not handled as well as it could have been and owners are now paying up to 40 per cent more for tires than they were under the old contract. The Dallara chassis has gone up more than $150,000 in price. Some owners are paying more for their Honda and Chevy engine leases than others because of the botchup that was Lotus.
So there is trouble in River City.
But it shouldn’t have been made public and certainly not by Tweet.
And by communicating to the world in that manner, Bernard has inadvertently opened up another can of worms.
Driver Oriole Servia Tweeted some uncomplimentary things about Texas Motor Speedway and promoter Eddie Gossage yesterday that should result in a fine for embarrassing the series.
But how can Bernard fine Servia – unless he fines himself for doing the same thing?
There was an interesting little verbal exchange during that long red flag at the IndyCar Series race on Detroit’s Belle Isle Sunday that, I think, signalled the beginning of the end for Ryan Briscoe at Penske Racing.
It’s not as if the guy has set the world on fire at Penske. He’s in his fifth season and has won six races but none since 2010. He won the pole for this year’s Indy 500 but, other than that that, pretty much zilch.
The fact that he keeps getting rehired, and on a three-car Penske team that is one more than the Captain usually likes to run, has always been a bit of a puzzler.
In any event, when it looked like they were going to try to restart the race after the two-hour "debris delay," several drivers - including Briscoe - got upset when it appeared some teams were trying to circumvent the rules concerning which tires (soft or hard) were supposed to be on the cars.
Briscoe bitched sufficiently about having to drive on the rubber he was given that a voice on the team radio (and broadcast on TV) finally said – words to the effect of: "If you don’t want to drive the car, leave it in the pits."
That’s pretty strong language. A friend of mine says Roger Penske said the words while I thought it was team manager Tim Cindric. Either way, don’t be surprised if Briscoe’s not back in 2013 – unless he should start winning and then all might be forgiven.