SPEED’s NASCAR Race Hub Talks to Bob Pockrass about Kurt Busch
Bob Pockrass, NASCAR writer for The Sporting News, came onto the set of NASCAR Race Hub this evening to chat about his challenging interview with Sprint Cup Series driver Kurt Busch.
Busch’s actions towards Pockrass resulted in a NASCAR suspension that lasts through June 13, along with an addition to his probation until Dec. 31. The following are quotes from his interview with host Steve Byrnes.
Steve Byrnes: Did you feel Kurt’s tone was threatening? Did you feel that his words were abusive?
Bob Pockrass: I was not threatened by him. Athletes and the media often don’t see eye to eye, and I just thought it was one of those situations. I hope that NASCAR’s penalties (aren’t) necessarily just for what he said to me, but to keep other incidents from happening, and possibility from worse incidents from happening. Again, I thought it was just one of those media-athlete tiffs with no big harm.
Byrnes: Bob, to your point about the totality of Kurt’s behavior, you’ve worked in the sport a long time. I think you, myself, a lot of us have witnessed – I wouldn’t call it hostile relations to the media - but this is not his first run in with the media.
Pockrass: No it’s not, and to be fair, there have been times when I have asked questions and he’s been like, ‘Ah… this is like People Magazine and not racing. This is not the first time I’ve heard that from Kurt. Again, we just don’t see eye to eye on maybe what’s news or how things should be viewed. That happens. Kurt, obviously, has a little bit of trouble handling these types of situations.
Byrnes: You know, Bob, you have taken some criticism some people feel like you were adding fuel to the fire. As just a personal aside, I thought you asked some legitimate questions, being on probation, does it affect the way you race?
Pockrass: I’ll agree with you, Steve, I appreciate that. Especially because Kevin Harvick has said in the past that he’s felt like he’s kind of had a hand tied behind his back when he’s been on probation. I want to say Brad Keselowski may have said a similar thing. So I was kind of curious whether Kurt felt that way, especially with the way he said Justin Allgaier was racing him. Look, we all try to be professional and we try to treat drivers with respect. But, you have to ask the question at a time when it’s pertinent. This was the pertinent time to ask it. Just because some has a history of having some confrontational moments with the media, that doesn’t mean they don’t get asked those questions any more. If so, we would just be asking all the hard questions to guys like Justin Allgaier and Jeff Gordon. Nobody gets a free pass.
Byrnes: James Finch (Busch’s car owner) was quoted again today saying that they were going to have a ‘Come to Jesus’ meeting – his words not mine – with Kurt. And he said, ‘It’s simple. He’s got to to quit wrecking race cars, and be nice to people. In your opinion, do you think he will continue – that being James Finch – with Kurt Busch after Pocono?
Pockrass: First off, I haven’t talked to James because of the situation I am in – in this deal. So I don’t know exactly what he’s thinking. But, I think he will. I think if he did want Kurt, Kurt would already be out the door.