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Crew chief Steve Addington and Kurt Busch talk in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2011 in Homestead, Florida. (Jerry Markland/Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Crew chief Steve Addington and Kurt Busch talk in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2011 in Homestead, Florida. (Jerry Markland/Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR's Kurt Busch loses his temper again Add to ...

In a Type 1a supernova explosion, a white dwarf star in a binary system takes on mass from its companion until the increased pressure and density superheats its core and ultimately causes a spectacular explosion.

This phenomenon may also explain the bizarre behaviour of Penske driver Kurt Busch, who seemed to experience a runaway fusion reaction as ESPN pit reporter Jerry Punch prepared to interview the No. 22 Penske driver after he retired from NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday.

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As the pair waited to do a live interview, Punch observed that Busch’s broken drive shaft may have pierced the nose of Tony Stewart’s car, a remark that seemed to push the driver to the ignition point. The profanity-laced tirade that followed was captured by a fan and uploaded to video sharing website YouTube. After listening calmly to the verbal assault, Punch walked away without doing the interview.

Oddly, the series has as yet declined to sanction Busch for the outburst, something that seems a bit strange considering that NASCAR has previously slapped fines on drivers who swear over their team radios. In addition, NASCAR fined Dale Earnhardt Jr. $10,000 for swearing in a 2004 TV interview following a question about the significance of his fifth victory at Talladega.

Soon after video of Sunday's outburst was uploaded, the Penske team apologized for Busch's actions and said the matter would be reviewed internally. Never a friendly sort, Busch also sent out a statement of regret for his latest outburst.

“Unfortunately, our result in the season-ending race at Homestead on Sunday was not what we had hoped for as a team,” Busch said in the statement.

“In my frustration with the loss of my transmission early in the race, I let my emotions get the better of me. I regret having done this and apologize to the sponsors of Penske Racing, to NASCAR, its fans, to the media and in particular, Dr. Jerry Punch.”

Ironically, many felt that Busch’s sophomore teammate, Brad Keselowski would be the driver who would cause fireworks in 2011, especially after his running battle with Carl Edwards the previous season. That pair wreaked havoc throughout 2010, causing several large accidents as they played a dangerous game of high-speed bumper cars on most weekends.

Instead, Keselowski, 27, not only improved as the year progressed but also kept his aggression in check and remained firmly focused on finding success on track. The result was three wins, a pole and a spot in the 10-race Chase for the Cup showdown that decides the season champion. In the end, he finished the year fifth overall in the standings.

As Keselowski grew in maturity and the results came, it seemed to add weight Busch's shoulders. Perhaps the pressure of having a younger talented teammate outshine Busch, 33, and take on the leadership role in the team was simply too much for his core to bear.

2004 Cup champion Busch trailed his teammate in wins and top-5 finishes. While both made the Chase, Keselowski surprised and impressed with his regular season performance and then acquitted himself well in the 10-race playoff, while Busch, who was supposed to be the team's point man, looked ordinary in many races. Add three finishes out of the top 30 in the final five Chase events, which ended with his early exit in Miami, and the stage was set for detonation.

Media weren't the only ones in Busch's sights this year. His crew chief, Steve Addington, who was the target of some less than respectful radio chatter from his driver this season, left Penske Racing following the season finale at Homestead-Miami last weekend. Addington’s move marks the second time in three seasons Busch has lost a crew chief.

Whatever the cause of Busch’s anger issues, it’s time the series takes action to show fans and media that this kind of behaviour is unacceptable. Otherwise, he’ll just embarrass everyone associated with NASCAR one more time when he explodes again.

Kubica not ready?

There’s something strange going on at the Renault Formula One team. The outfit issued a release Wednesday saying Robert Kubica’s recovery is not progressing as quickly as anticipated and the highly rated racer will not be ready to drive in the 2012 season opener next March. The team said the 26-year-old Polish driver informed it that he needs more time to return to full fitness.

Kubica suffered serious injuries in a pre-season rallying crash in Italy, which almost severed his right hand. He missed the entire 2011 season and underwent several surgeries to repair the damage.

This is all just a bit odd considering that his contract with the team apparently runs out at the end of this year, so he won’t necessarily be back with the team, whether he’s ready to race or not. In addition, his manager contradicted the team’s assertion, saying Thursday that Kubica only told the team he may not be ready to drive in the winter tests in February.

Some of the back-and-forth may be linked to the ongoing rumour that he will be offered a Ferrari seat in 2013, when its driver Felipe Massa’s contract expires.

As for the Renault team, it said will use the winter test sessions to figure out which drivers will be in its cars next year. Bruno Senna, the nephew of late three-time F1 world champion Ayrton, looks to have the inside line on one of the seats. He inherited the ride at Renault when the team dumped Kubica’s initial replacement, Nick Heidfeld, with eight races left in the season. The finale goes Sunday in Brazil.

The other spot will likely stay in Vitaly Petrov’s hands, who has flush Russian backers to help secure his seat.

For more from Jeff Pappone, go to facebook.com/jeffpappone (No login required!)

Twitter: @jpappone

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