Although NASCAR cracked down hard, suspending Busch and placing him on probation for the remainder of the Sprint Cup season, the fact of the matter is that Busch brought attention to NASCAR. The attention comes at a time when economic concerns have everyone from team owners to sponsors wondering how much longer they'll be able to hold on.
Knowing that, could even negative attention be good for the sport at a time like this?
The nice, clean, competitive chase — which Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards still leads with two races to go — was entertaining for die-hard fans but had failed to capture broad interest. It's a common problem for a sport that has long tried to expand its influence beyond its stranglehold in the South.
Controversy has long been one of stock car racing's selling points. One of its most popular drivers, Dale Earnhardt, was known as "The Intimidator." Kurt Busch's bickering with five-time champion Jimmie Johnson has garnered almost as much coverage during the Chase as the races themselves. Danica Patrick generates as much interest for her photoshoots (and false outrage from purists over those photoshoots) as she does from her performance on the track.
NASCAR disciplined on Busch, as it had to. But a little adverse publicity is, in the end, still publicity.
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