NASCAR has invested a great deal of time and energy cultivating a family-friendly public image. So it's a problem for them when Kurt Busch, the defending series champ, has a little run-in with cops near the Phoenix International Raceway, site of this past weekend's race.

Busch was taken into custody for suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol after a Maricopa (Ariz.) sheriff's deputy pulled him over for driving roughly 60 mph in a 45-mph zone and running a stop sign, Lt. Paul Chagolla, a Maricopa County sheriff's spokesman, told the Associated Press on Saturday. Busch refused to perform standard sobriety tests on the scene, was verbally abusive to the deputy and was taken into custody, according to Chagolla. After officials were unable to perform a blood-alcohol test because the machine malfunctioned, Busch was cited for reckless driving and released.

Busch has been suspended for the remainder of the season--all of two races. I had just seen an interview with Busch on HBO's Real Sports, where he tried to understand why he's so unpopular with the series' traditional southern fans.

Maybe this is the sort of thing that could bring them around.

AuthorMark McClusky