Kurt Busch's title hopes officially end

Monday, November 14, 2005

AVONDALE, Ariz. -- Roush Racing put up with Kurt Busch's reputation for reckless driving on the track. When the defending Nextel Cup champion was accused of doing it in his own car, the team had seen enough.

Busch was suspended Sunday for the remainder of the NASCAR season after his run-in with police, who said he smelled of alcohol and was belligerent during a traffic stop Friday night.

"It's the last straw for Roush Racing," team president Geoff Smith said Sunday. "We're officially retiring as Kurt Busch's apologists, effective today."

Kenny Wallace replaced Busch for Sunday's race at Phoenix, where Busch won in April, and finished 16th.

Busch also will miss next week's Ford 400 in Homestead, Fla.

Busch was pulled over near Phoenix International Raceway for trying to avoid another car and running a stop sign. Officers said he smelled of alcohol and became belligerent.

Busch, who has a history of run-ins on and off the track with drivers and NASCAR officials, appeared to be holding back tears as he told NBC Sports that alcohol was not involved in the incident.

"Obviously, I'm upset. It's tough. I'm a race car driver, there's a race today and I'd love to be in the race," he said. "My crew, (crew chief) Jimmy Fennig, I have to thank them for what they gave me. Man, it's just unfortunate. I'd love to be there for them today.

"That's the decision they made, and I will live with it," Busch added.

Busch made the Chase for the championship but was running in eighth place, virtually eliminated from a shot at winning another title.

"He's a young man with great potential that has been realized to an extent, but he's got some challenges building relationships in the public and the sponsors community to realize that potential," Roush said. "I wish him well."

Busch is under contract to the Roush team through the end of the season. He will not be allowed to drive for anyone else in 2005.

-- AP

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