Senior staff writer
No matter what Kurt Busch accomplishes on the track, an asterisk will follow his on-track achievements because his off-track past will follow him.
The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion is not alone in that category. He has plenty of company with Lance Armstrong, Ray Rice and Adrian Peterson plus other NFL players suspended for off-field violence and baseball stars who took performance enhancement drugs.
Those little reminders were there in print and on the airwaves after Busch won a Sprint Cup 400-lap race April 26 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
Busch always will be known as NASCAR’s first driver to be suspended because of alleged physical violence against a woman which now falls under the sanctioning body’s “conduct detrimental to the sport” behavior.
He was suspended before the Daytona 500 that was lifted after prosecutors deemed there was not enough evidence to go to trial.
Busch, who drives for co-team owners Tony Stewart and Gene Haas, led a career-high 291 of 400 laps Sunday and virtually nailed down a spot in The Chase.
Busch rightfully called his win “a total team effort.” He edged teammate and reigning Sprint Cup champion Kevin Harvick to the line by 0.754 of a second.
Gordon was eighth, Ryan Newman 11th, and Stewart 41st.
Busch, who did The Double (Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 last year), credited those close to him and Haas for being supportive through the off-season. Busch said at the annual NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway that the truth would come out.
“Standing on the truth the whole time, that gave me the feeling of when I do get back to the car, it’s going to be easy to focus,” Busch said after the Richmond race. “I think I’ve shown that.”
Any lingering chips on his shoulder were brushed off by taking home the winner’s trophy.
“We want to win more; we want to win more often,” Busch said.
Hopefully that also means winning ways off the track, too.
Next up is the Geico 500 Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on FOX. The Xfinity Winn-Dixie 300 rolls Saturday at 2 p.m. (EDT), also on FOX.
*Looking for unique track food? Here’s a few items that Charlotte Motor Speedway has for its 10 Days of NASCAR Thunder leading up to May 24:Candied Bacon Lollipops (225 calories), thick-cut bacon, brown sugar, maple syrup, Sriracha chili sauce and black pepper; Crank Shaft Burrito, gigantic burrito of four 12-inch tortillas stuffed with 1.5 pounds of baked beans, 1.5 pounds of coleslaw and 3 pounds of Carolina pulled pork, tossed with barbecue sauce, and topped with 8 ounces of white queso, 4 ounces of jalapeños, more baked beans, slaw and pulled pork; Speedway Picnic Burger, eight ¼-pound burgers, eight hotdogs, 1.5 pounds of pulled pork, 1 pound of bacon, lettuce, tomatoes and eight slices of American cheese piled on a 14-inch sesame seed bun.
*Six-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson is among NASCAR drivers who five back. The Jimmie Johnson Foundation, founded in February 2006 with wife Chandra has committed more than $7.7 million to charities. They announced April 24 the five recipients of the annual $25,000 Blue Bunny Helmet of Hope grants to: 9 Dots, Los Angeles; BackPack Beginnings, Greensboro, N.C.; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Siouxland, Sioux City, Iowa; Carolina Raptor Center in Charlotte, N.C.; and The Be Kind to People Project in Phoenix.
Reigning Pro-Stock champion Erica Enders-Stevens snared the points lead for the first time with her second straight triumph in the NHRA Spring Nationals April 26 at Houston, Texas.
She topped Chris McGaha of Texas by less one-10th of a second. Enders began racing at 18 at Royal Purple Raceway for her 14th NHRA career win.
Ron Capps took the Funny Car class, and Doug Kalitta won Top Fuel with a run of 3.820 seconds, 324.98 mph.
*Ashley Force Hood is now vice president of John Force Racing, Inc., as announced April 23 by John Force who has merged John Force Entertainment Inc., with JFR, Inc. Her duties now include the racing side of the business as well as entertainment production and commercial development. She also will be available to step into a Funny Car if needed.
Figure-8 racing revs up again May 2 with the third annual Ed Bishop Memorial 75-lap race for competitors in the “Road to the 3-Hour Figure-8” series at the Indianapolis Speedrome.
Racing starts at 7 p.m., including Roadrunners, Hornets, Legends and Indy Super Karts.
The Figure-8 features exotic high-horsepower, high-winged cars designed for lightning fast crossover action.
Doug Greig seeks his second straight 75-lap win after beating a 22-car field April 18 for Advance Auto Sales World Figure-8 cars. Fast qualifier Ben Tunny was second.
Feature winners included: Jordan Hahn in USA Insulation Stocks, Dustin Kares in Indy Super Karts, and Kyle O’Gara in the 50-lap USSA Mel Kenyon Midget Series.
LUCAS OIL RACEWAY
Located on the Eastside of Brownsburg, Lucas Oil Raceway (formerly Indianapolis Raceway Park) features the Ray Skillman Auto Group NHRA Spring Spectacle of Speed, Nov. 1-3, for North Central Division dragsters.
It is the only regional event on the national NHRA calendar with Top Dragster, Sportsman and Top Alcohol Fuel ion action. SuperStock and Stock national record runs are May 1 with qualifying at 2:30 p.m. Events begin at 11:30 a.m. May 2 and May 3.
MID-AMERICA SPEEDWAY: Rain Saturday postponed motorcycle flat track racing at the Marion County Fairgrounds facility until May 2 with practice at 5 p.m.
USAC: The 2015 Silver Crown Series opens May 2 with the Hemelgarn Super Fitness “Rollie Beale Classic” at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway … the race is named in honor of the 1973 sprint car champion who made his home in Toledo …Indiana’s own Dave Darland won the AMSOIL USAC National Sprint Car 30-lap feature April 25 at Eagle (Neb.) Raceway, his 55th career series win … Darland was fourth in the “Weld Racing Spring Classic” in Kansas City, Kansas. He is third in points, Jon Stanbrough is sixth and Tracy Hines seventh.
LUCAS OIL RACEWAY: The Ray Skillman Auto Group NHRA Spring Spectacle of Speed unfolds May 1-3 for Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series Division and Regional competitors … it is the only regional event on the national NHRA calendar with Top Dragster, Sportsman and Top Alcohol Fuel dragsters in action … SuperStock and Stock national record runs are May 1 with qualifying at 2:30 p.m. Events begin at 11:30 a.m. May 2 and May 3.
WORLD OF OUTLAWS: Danny Schatz scored his sixth win of the season for team co-owner Tony Stewart April 25 in the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series at Devil’s Bowl Speedway in Mesquite, Texas. Finishing 2-5, in order: Shane Stewart, Kraig Kinser, Jason Sides, and Logan Schumhart. Pittsboro’s Joey Saldana, driving for a team owned by Kasey Kahn, was sixth …