Kyle Busch answered questions about his “128 mph in a 45 mph” speeding incident on a public road Thursday, and to me he sounded an awful lot like he was running for office.
I’m not sure I’ve ever heard an athlete take every question in the allotted time – which Busch did – and never say “no comment’ but stick so closely to what had to be preconceived talking points.
In a nutshell, Busch apologized repeatedly for his “lack of judgment” and said he would make this a “learning experience” and then “move forward.” In one way or the other, Busch answered almost every question with those same phrases. It sounded pretty canned.
An example from Busch:
“I’m certainly sorry that it happened.... It was a lack of judgment, all I can do is apologize to the public, my friends, my fans, my sponsors, everybody – I’ll look at this as a learning experience and move forward.”
Busch sounded chastened and not at all like his ornery self (which did occasionally exhibit itself, but only in questions about other subjects, of which there were a surprising number).
Busch also managed to throw in lavish praise to both the police and the military during his news conference. If there had been an American flag nearby, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see him wrap himself inside.
The closest thing Busch said that sounded like the way he usually talks came in a response to a question from The Observer’s David Scott, who asked why Busch had called the fancy Lexus he was driving a “toy” to the trooper who issued him the citation.
Busch said the $350,000 Lexus wasn’t a toy, but a high-performance vehicle that was on loan to him from Lexus. He said it was a car that should be driven with caution, which he hadn’t shown. He said that when you see car commercials that note at the bottom that the stunts done were by a professional driver on a closed course that there’s a reason for that and “mine was not that.”
Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson noted later in another interview that owning a high-performance car is a natural temptation, which is why he doesn’t get in them much.
“Everybody who has a high-performance car stands on the throttle at some point,” Johnson said, adding that wasn’t an excuse. Johnson also said he had never been in “triple digits” on a public road.
Busch drives his Sprint Cup car for Joe Gibbs, and Gibbs did address the media shortly after Busch did. Gibbs said this was a “serious issue” but did not specify what punishment, if any, Busch would receive from him.