Busch gives his take on Michigan mayhem

By Jeff Birchfield
STAR Staff
jbirchfield@starhq.com
BRISTOL -- Kurt Busch offered a response to members of the media Friday morning at Bristol Motor Speedway about last Sunday's altercation with Jimmy Spencer following the Michigan race.
Busch started by remembering the incident in the 2002 Food City 500 at BMS that put a ton of heat into the rivalry, months after the two initially collided at Phoenix the previous season.
"I got my first Winston Cup win here," Busch recalled. "It's Bristol and it's Jimmy and me, so things are intense. I'm leading going into turn one and he gives me the bump and run, a veteran, rookie style pass and that's the way I accepted it.
"I'm a quick learner, so we go another lap and I do it back and we go on to finish one and two. It was a great race, really clean, it's the kind of race Bristol is all about."
Busch even expressed regret that Spencer didn't get to race at Bristol after being suspended by NASCAR.
"I hate it that Jimmy's not here this weekend," said Busch. "He's a tough competitor, just like I am. I hate it that Jimmy and I finished the day that we did last Sunday.
"Those kind of situations are not good for our sport and send the wrong message about what kind of people we are. It's a shame NASCAR was left with no choice but to impose the penalties it did. As for my part, I'm sorry I had anything to do with it."
He touched on the bumping during the race that led to Spencer punching him in the car.
"It's clear that not everyone knows what happens on the race track every week," said Busch. "There isn't a race that goes by where someone doesn't employ a tactic like Jimmy and I did to one another last week. At a superspeedway, you might try to take the guy's air off his spoiler or loosen him up. You might try to knock his fender in and make his car push. Just like a bump and run, it's part of racing."
He responded to a question on whether he tried to flatten anyone else's fender that day with, "I didn't. There are things drivers do to gain a competitive advantage on the race track and that's a classic way to try and gain an advantage."
Asked if the situation after the race could have been avoided, Busch replied, "I felt the whole circumstance evolved around me running out of fuel. If I could have done anything different, it would have been to stop out on pit road. I never thought an altercation would have come out of it."
He then dealt with fellow racer Robby Gordon's comments that Busch had the punch thrown by Spencer coming a long time.
"You have to consider the source where that is coming from," remarked Busch. "I'm a competitor that races hard every lap. I think I've proved my loyalty with 43 drivers out there that I can be trusted on the race track."
After saying he made no efforts to contact Spencer this week, Busch did say he wasn't trying to injure the veteran driver.
"I have never tried to intentionally hurt Jimmy Spencer or any other competitor," remarked Busch. "It's an unwritten rule amongst the drivers to never overstep that boundary. It's one thing to bump a guy out of the way for the lead, but you never try to purposely hurt anybody. I have never tried to hurt Jimmy Spencer."
He says he was unaware Spencer was even upset during the race.
"No idea," said the 24 year-old driver. "My team never mentioned a word. What happened on the track, there was no means for the actions that happened after the race."
Busch expressed unfair treatment with media reporting on their rivalry. The feud became a big story at the 2002 Brickyard 400 when Busch after hitting the wall from a tap by Spencer got out of his car and made a lewd gesture to the driver when he came back by.
"You guys have made me deal with this since Bristol last spring," said Busch. "It's been lopsided since the beginning of it and I've put it behind me. Everything has been misconstrued about the two of us and it still continues. I'm looking to put a period on the end of it."
Spencer can't put a period on it yet as legal issues are still in question. Busch says his part in the matter is done.
"We finished our police report there (at the track)," said Busch. "It's up to the DA's office and the prosecutors to make their decision, so we've left it with them."
The matter of having reconstructive surgery due to facial damage suffered was also talked about.
"No, we're not at this time," said Busch. "It's too difficult to tell. It's to early. My doctor said that I have swelling in my nose. It's too difficult to know if the bone is chipped, so we have to be re-evaluated in three months, so that is my physical condition."
Saturday featured more breaking news as NASCAR released copies of an in-car videotape of the post-race altercation to certain media members. According to those sources, instead of Busch running out of fuel as was previously reported, it showed Busch shut the car off at Spencer's trailer.
When an angry Spencer approached the car yelling for Busch to get out, Busch responded back with profanity and insults. Spencer threw one punch on tape according to the sources as the whole episode lasted only 48 seconds.