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Busch to race Cup without main sponsor M&M’s
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Kyle Busch will be allowed to race in the final two Sprint Cup Series events but without main sponsor M&M’s.
Busch will drive Sunday at Phoenix and in next weekend’s season finale at Homestead with Interstate Batteries as his sponsor instead. Although M&M’s is Busch’s primary sponsor, Interstate Batteries is heavily involved with the team.
In a statement released Thursday night, sponsor Mars said the car will not run with the M&M’s paint scheme until 2012, “at which time Kyle Busch will be the driver with the expectation that no future incident take place.”
“While we do not condone Kyle’s recent actions, we do believe that he has shown remorse and has expressed a desire to change,” said Debra A. Sandler, chief consumer officer, Mars Chocolate North America. “We believe our decision will have a positive impact on Kyle and will help him return next season ready to win.”
The deal ends a week of wrangling over Busch’s future with his race team _ all fallout from a road rage incident at Texas. Busch wrecked Ron Hornaday Jr. under caution early in the Trucks Series race and was parked by NASCAR for the rest of the weekend.
Busch has admitted he lost control of his temper and has since apologized. NASCAR suspended him from all racing at Texas, and this week fined him $50,000 and placed him on probation through the end of the year.
But questions from his sponsors put everything in limbo.
In fact, multiple people familiar with Busch’s schedule told the Associated Press that Z-Line Designs asked this week that Denny Hamlin replace Busch in next weekend’s Nationwide race at Homestead. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because the meetings over Busch’s future have been ongoing.
Interstate was JGR’s original primary sponsor and only relinquished its role when Busch signed with the team in 2008. The company was the primary sponsor for Busch in six Cup races this season. It also was his sponsor in a Nationwide and Truck Series race and sponsored Hamlin and Joey Logano in one race each.
Busch, who seemed unrepentant after the accident, admitted he lost his cool on the track.
“I’ve been wrecked four weeks in a row, and I’ve had enough of it, and I retaliated,” he said. “So it’s certainly my fault for doing that. If everybody wants to say, `Hornaday is racing for a championship, roll over,’ that’s not my fashion. That’s not anybody else’s fashion out here.”
His tone changed considerably a day later, after NASCAR “parked” him from all competition at Texas.
“I’ve had a lot of time today to sit and reflect, and try to put my thoughts into words as best I can,” he wrote in a lengthy apology posted Saturday on the Kyle Busch Motorsports website. “I want to sincerely apologize for my actions during Friday night’s Truck Series race at Texas.”
It’s been a tremendous fall for the 26-year-old Busch, who just two months ago was the favorite to win his first Sprint Cup championship.
He opened the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup tied with rival Kevin Harvick for the top seed based on his four regular season victories. But he again faltered in the opening Chase races and was never a serious title contender.
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