For the second year in a row, Kurt Busch made the Forbes list of “Most Disliked Athletes”. Busch was ranked 8th out of the ten athletes in the list. Depending on who you are talking to, Busch either improved up the rankings or declined in the rankings.
Busch is still working to repair his reputation and image after a series of emotional meltdowns starting in 2011 led to his ousting from Penske Racing. A.J. Allmendinger replaced him in the No.22 before being suspended by NASCAR for violating NASCAR’s substance abuse policy. Sam Hornish Jr. filled in for the remainder of the season, and has since been replaced by Joey Logano for the 2013 season as Matt Kenseth is taking over for Logano at JGR. Hornish will return full-time to the Nationwide Series. Talk about a crazy silly season, right?
Busch was tenth on the list last season, but was third in 2006. Many people believe that was the result of his DUI arrest in Phoenix in 2004, and the comments made about Maricopa County Sheriff, Joe Arpaio.
Busch started off the season well for Phoenix Racing, but found himself in trouble after a pit road altercation with Ryan Newman’s pit crew along with reckless driving on pit road led to NASCAR placing him on probation. He found himself suspended for a week after verbally threatening Sporting News reporter, Bob Pockrass after Pockrass asked Busch if he had to race Justin Allgaier differently because he was on probation. Busch responded, “It refrains me from beating the sh** out of you because you ask stupid questions.”
Busch kept his nose clean, but had a minor issue at Talladega when he endangered a safety worker after speeding away from an accident with medical equipment still on top of the car. NASCAR told Busch to stop, but he didn’t have his helmet to hear what NASCAR was ordering him to do. I don’t pin that on Busch though. That was Busch’s last race for Phoenix Racing.
Busch replaced Regan Smith at Furniture Row Racing late last season, as Regan Smith went to the Nationwide Series to drive for JR Motorsports and won the season finale at Homestead. According to team manager Joe Garone, the team has had “no problems” with Busch to this point.
In not so surprising news, Lance Armstrong leads the pack as the most disliked athlete with Manti Te’o right behind him after his fake girlfriend controversy. We’ll see how Busch performs this season.