Craig Murto: Busch finds redemption with win

Kurt Busch has had an eventful year.

Kurt Busch has had an eventful year.

He was suspended by NASCAR early in the season following allegations of domestic abuse. The suspension was lifted after Busch went through whatever process NASCAR mandated, and prosecutors determined there was not enough evidence to prosecute.

Now, with his victory at Richmond, he has found redemption. He will be in the Chase and compete for the 2015 NASCAR title.

Kurt Busch must be a cat. Cats have nine lives, or so they say. How many top race teams fired Kurt Busch because of his anger management issues? How many chances do most drivers get?

It appeared Busch would be finished when released from Penske. But he worked his way back from that to land the ride at Stewart-Haas Racing. Then, when accused of domestic abuse by former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll, it appeared this had to be the last straw.

After all, it wouldn’t be the first time Busch’s anger issues got him in trouble. Not many of us give police the “don’t you know who I am?” treatment when pulled over for speeding. It seemed well within the realm of possibility that Driscoll’s claims were true. It especially didn’t help that Busch testified that he believed Driscoll was a paid assassin who worked for the government. Who believes this stuff?

But some comments Driscoll supposedly made about bringing Busch down and bringing NASCAR down came to light. It became a he said, she said, with no evidence to support either side.

And now, after all the public spectacle, Kurt Busch is in position to battle for a championship. He has a good shot at it, too. He’s not finished outside the top 15 since his suspension was lifted. And given the fact that no charges were filed in the domestic abuse situation, and that he went through the process NASCAR laid out for him, he’s been given a waiver to the requirement that he run every race. That was the proper thing to do given the circumstances, and Kurt Busch is not letting the opportunity slip away.

I predict he’ll win at least two more races this year.

Josef Newgarden won the IndyCar Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday for CFH Racing, the combined effort of Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing and Ed Carpenter Racing. It was Newgarden’s first career IndyCar win.

The drive of the day, however, belonged to Graham Rahal, who did all he could to chase down Newgarden in the final laps, only to finish second.

The 2015 Supercross champ, Ryan Dungey, finished second to Eli Tomac’s Honda at Met Life Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. Cole Seely, also on a Honda, finished third.

The 250 East champ, Marvin Musquin, took his KTM to victory. It’s one of the few times he and Dungey didn’t sweep the races for KTM. Musquin will compete in the East-West Shootout for the 250 class, part of this weekend’s Supercross finale in Las Vegas.

Hopefully rain doesn’t affect the Las Vegas Supercross. The only form of racing that seems to benefit from rain is Formula One. Rain cancelled or postponed nearly everything last Saturday in the Southeast.

Friday, however, was OK as far as weather goes, though a bit chilly. As dominant as Denny Hamlin was in the Xfinity race at Richmond, I think I would rather not have been seated in the cold.

Fans at Shenandoah Speedway for Friday’s Racing for Wishes 150 saw plenty of excitement, though it came at the loss of too many good cars and equipment. As entertaining as local fans might find an accident or two on the racetrack, they should remember that it comes with the possibility of cars missing from the following week’s races.

Some competitors were confused as to how the race was going to proceed. In the driver’s meeting, racers were told that there were going to be two inversions of the field. But there was only one, about lap 120, following a caution.

Usually the field is “frozen” when a caution flag is displayed. Davey Callahan was running fifth. Doug Liberman got by after the yellow flew. But when they inverted the top five, they put Liberman at the head of the field. It might have been a blessing for Callahan, as it was Lieberman who got spun by Brian Purdham, who eventually finished second after coming back from the rear.

Once the Late Model drivers were finished running over each other, Michael Hardin stood in victory lane. Of the 19 cars that took the green flag, seven were on track at the finish.

Veteran motorsports columnist Craig Murto is a Linden resident.

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