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KURT BUSCH: “Furniture Row Racing – Welcome to the Chase!”

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By Amanda Ebersole – Kurt Busch, you just earned Furniture Row Racing their first Chase berth and unbeknownst to you, you are now the poster boy of second chances.

It was back in 2011 during the season finale race that Kurt Busch’s world started to unravel. After an already rocky season, he was videotaped unleashing a verbal tirade on ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch. Subsequently Busch lost his ride at Penske Racing and was later picked up by Joe Garone at Furniture Row Racing.

Fast forward to present day and the words Kurt said over the radio as the checkered flag fell at Richmond, “Furniture Row Racing – welcome to the Chase!”

An emotional Busch spoke to ESPN after the race and could barely compose himself. Thanking girlfriend Patricia Driscoll and her young son, Houston, it appears that the Busch we all remember from 2011 is long gone.

As he stood in a bit of disbelief after the race, Busch spoke to ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch and said: “It’s been a journey. It’s been a great ride of trying to persevere and going up against the odds when certain things are against you that are out of your control and sometimes you induce things that put you in a position where you have to dig hard and keep working. This shows to people that when you can just pull through and believe in yourself and find good people like Patricia and little Houston, he said he wanted to go to victory lane this summer and I didn’t get him to victory lane yet, but we’re going to celebrate on the Chase stage. I’m getting all emotional about the eight year old hanging out with me.”

“But to make the Chase with these guys is an unbelievable feeling. It’s been an 18‑month work in progress, and I’ve been through a lot, and I’ve learned a lot, and I feel like I’m better ready for the Chase and life in general as a 35 year old.”

“I’ve got a little one that’s in a go‑kart looking up to me now. Just these guys, it’s an unbelievable feeling; Barney Visser started this in Colorado years ago, and here we are in the Chase. You get a guy like Todd Berrier that comes in and helps arrange things, starts cutting weight out of cars and knows his way around the garage, he’s a veteran leader, and I’ve always loved veterans and car guys. Todd Berrier reminds me a lot of Jimmy Fennig, who’s a guy that helped me win a championship years ago. We’ve got some muscle in us. We haven’t won a race yet this year, but we’re in the Chase, and we’ve got a good 10 weeks ahead of us where we can do some good things.”

My take on Kurt

I have been a skeptic of the “new Kurt” knowing the temper that he holds deep inside. That kind of anger and hatred just doesn’t disappear overnight. Listening and seeing him post-race at Richmond, my mind is swayed to the side that he is a changed man. Perhaps losing his ride at Penske, seeking anger management counseling and his new-found personal relationship was enough to change Busch. Why shouldn’t we, as race fans, give him the benefit of the doubt.

While Kurt still has his temper on the scanner, he has learned to control it much better than before. His radio rants are far and few between and it really shows the progress he has made as a man, not just as a driver.

Joe Garone and the entire Furniture Row Racing team took a chance on Busch and that chance is paying off ten times over as the single car team prepares to make history. Kudos to them for taking a risk and now reaping the benefits of that.

Andy Marquis

Andy Marquis is the Editor and Content Manager for the Late Model Stock Car racing website, STScene.com. Marquis has numerous years of journalistic experience from politics to racing.

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