Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Bad Boy's Good Move; Kurt Busch Praised for Selfless Moves That Aid His Penske Teammates

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

A Bad Boy's Good Move; Kurt Busch Praised for Selfless Moves That Aid His Penske Teammates

Article excerpt

Byline: DON COBLE

FONTANA, Calif. -- For most of his racing career, Kurt Busch has been the driver most fans loved to hate. That's why he's so uncomfortable being the new poster boy for all that is good and righteous in NASCAR.

Last Sunday, Busch jumped behind Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman on the final lap and pushed him past Tony Stewart to win the Daytona 500. He was the consummate teammate on the final lap, forgoing any chance to win to be Newman's wingman.

After listening to Newman and car owner Roger Penske -- and everyone else in the garage area -- heap praise on him for the past week, Busch would like nothing more than to get his edge back during today's Auto Club 500.

"It's been overwhelming, having the fans support and the people talking about what happened at Daytona and the excitement of how the race ended," Busch said. "To me, I was just doing the best thing that I could for me to win the race, and secondly, the next-best thing happened -- my teammate won the race."

Newman embarked on a national publicity tour after last week's victory, and he's talked about Busch at every stop. But enough is enough, Busch said. Now it's time to worry about 250 laps at the Auto Club Speedway.

"The regular season now really begins," Busch said. "We've got a long way to go before the Chase gets underway. Now this is what the core of our season is about -- the two-miles, mile-and-a-halves and the newness of the Car of Tomorrow on these new styles of tracks. Now it's finally time to start to work on it."

Busch's metamorphosis actually started during the offseason when he agreed to swap his points from the 2007 campaign with rookie Sam Hornish Jr. By doing that, Hornish, the winningest driver in IRL Indy Car Series history, was guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races of the year. Busch either had to qualify on time or use a past champion's provisional exemption.

He needed that exemption to start last in the Daytona 500. When qualifying for the Auto Club 500 was rained out Friday, Hornish was allowed to use Busch's success from a year ago to start seventh in today's race, while Busch is forced to start way back in 36th. …

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