Kurt Busch met the media Tuesday.
The result was weird.
You’ve heard of a Q-and-A session? Busch’s session was mostly a Q-and-NA, as in questions from reporters and nonanswers from Busch.
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A couple of quick examples.
Q: What’s been the hardest thing about this offseason?
NA: The fact there’s been no testing. I feel like that’s been the toughest part, we’ve been out of the seat for so long.
Q: Do you feel like your career is in the balance?
NA: Is it where?
Q: In the balance.
NA: I feel like 2015 can be the best year I’ve ever had.
To his credit, Busch did not try to have his PR people start his group interview by proclaiming he was not going to address his testimony two weeks ago in Delaware. There, the NASCAR driver said under oath that his former girlfriend Patricia Driscoll had told him she was a trained assassin who had killed people, including drug lords.
Those contentions from Busch came two weeks ago, during a hearing for a no-contact order that Driscoll had sought against Busch.
Last fall, Driscoll accused Busch of domestic assault at his motor home at Dover International Speedway. No charges have been filed against Busch, who has repeatedly denied the allegations.
“I feel great,” Busch said Tuesday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour. “It’s easy to be here and to stand on truth.”
Busch reiterated several times that everything he said in the courtroom he believed to be true, including how Driscoll could have beaten him up anytime she wanted: “I knew she could take me down at any moment,” Busch testified. He also said in the courtroom that Driscoll once told him that the main character in the war movie “Zero Dark Thirty” – which depicted the CIA’s hunt for Osama bin Laden – had been based partially on Driscoll.
Driscoll has said in recent interviews that Busch’s assertions were ludicrous and taken from a fictional movie script she had written and that he had once proofread. Busch reiterated Tuesday, though, that everything he said in the courtroom was true.
“My right hand was on the Bible and I swore under oath to tell the truth,” Busch said Tuesday.
Who knows where the truth lies?
It is important to note that Busch hasn’t been charged with anything, although that doesn’t mean he won’t be. Decisions from Delaware are due any day, and both Busch and NASCAR await them.
When I asked Busch if he thought there was a scenario under which NASCAR would suspend him for part or all of this season, Busch said: “Well, we just have to wait on the decision from the Dover Police Department, and then the investigation that is still ongoing. So we’ll see how that all turns out.”
NASCAR CEO Brian France said Monday his organization is going to “let the facts come in” before deciding on what punishment, if any, Busch will get.
“There would be no reason for me or NASCAR or anybody else to get ahead of those facts, given that they may change,” France said.
Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart-Haas racing and Busch’s employer, spoke carefully Tuesday about the situation.
“It certainly has gotten into tabloid form,” Haas said, “and I think that’s unfortunate, because it’s a very serious topic we’re talking about. It has degenerated with all the media attention. What can you say? All you can do is put more fuel on that fire, and I don’t want to go there.”
Haas did say he had never really considered taking Busch out of the car because of Driscoll’s allegations of domestic violence. And he said the NFL’s approach to some other cases, like Ray Rice’s, had come under dissimilar circumstances.
Said Haas: “I think in the NFL things are a little bit different – they had some very graphic videos to back up what was said. I don’t have anything like that to base anything on. … I think domestic violence is a very serious issue. At the same time, I do believe in due process, and I also think there can be abuses to the system, too.”
Driscoll has also said Busch has issues with depression and alcohol.
Busch did not get into that at any length Tuesday, but did say, “It would be difficult to have those symptoms as well as race at the top levels and finish sixth in the Indy 500 and things like that.”
Haas said, “Every time I’ve been with Kurt Busch at dinner, I’ve never seen him drink. On race weekends I know when I’m having a beer, he’s having water. I never saw that personally. I think he’s a stable person.”
All of that could be explained away however you like, depending on whose side you are on. There’s no doubt there is more to come on this story, probably very soon.
In the meantime, Busch – a former champion at NASCAR’s highest level in 2004 – can’t wait to climb in a race car at Daytona and drive 200 mph. It’s the best escape he’s got.
But until things get settled one way or the other, he gets to face more exchanges like this one Tuesday.
Q: Have you had any conversations with NASCAR (about what happened in Delaware), and have they given you any indications of what might happen?
NA: We’re all waiting on the decision.
Q: But have you had conversations with NASCAR?
NA: We’re all waiting on the decision.
Q: So you have had conversations with NASCAR?
NA: I think that’s in the answer. We’re all waiting on the decision.