- Associated Press - Thursday, December 1, 2011

LAS VEGAS (AP) - Kurt Busch, fined $50,000 last week by NASCAR for verbally abusing a reporter, said Thursday he’s seeing a sports psychologist to address what he described as “personal issues.”

“I need to be a better person on the radio, to the team, as a leader,” said Busch, who began working with the psychologist two months ago. “It’s personal issues, of course, and working with a sports psychologist, I’ve gotten obviously a small grasp, but there’s obviously bigger things that I need to accomplish and things can’t happen overnight.”

Busch’s temper has long been documented, and his explosions on his in-car radio are notorious in NASCAR. He’s had other incidents with media members this season, and NASCAR cited a pattern of behavior in fining him last week.

Busch was caught by his in-car camera making an obscene gesture as he drove into the garage at Homestead early in the season finale because of a transmission problem. A fan also videotaped him being verbally abusive to an ESPN reporter as he waited to be interviewed live.

The video was posted on YouTube, and both Penske Racing and sponsor Shell/Pennzoil said in statements they were disappointed by Busch’s behavior.

Busch said Thursday during an industry luncheon that he was upset at Homestead when he realized he was guaranteed to finish 11th of the 12 drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. The ceremony is held in Las Vegas, his hometown, and the last two drivers in the Chase field don’t have a role in Friday’s awards show.

Busch and younger brother Kyle finished 11th and 12th.

Busch also said he was upset when the reporter, ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch, informed him a part of his transmission had sailed into champion Tony Stewart’s car.

“He was the first to tell me that news, and the flash that went through my mind just before that was I’m going to finish 11th _ 11th is the first loser when you come to Las Vegas,” Busch said. “Then I realize my car is taking away a shot at Tony’s championship.”

Stewart recovered from the damage to win the race and win his third championship.

Busch has had a rough month to end his season. He ran out of gas at Texas, while leading at Phoenix, and had the transmission problem at Homestead. Crew chief Steve Addington also quit two days after the season ended to take the same job next season with Stewart.

Now, Busch is looking for his third crew chief in four years and wants someone within Penske Racing to be promoted into the position. He cited the chemistry between teammate Brad Keselowski and crew chief Paul Wolfe, who was promoted from the Nationwide Series. Penske signed both Keselowski and Wolfe to contract extensions Thursday.

But he indicated the new crew chief will have a challenge in controlling the driver. He also said making progress on his personal growth is a priority.

“You can work 364 days on being positive and building toward a better platform, and it can take just one day to knock it all back,” he said. “I need to harness what happens in the race car and keep it there, and then I need to step out of the car and understand that if we didn’t reach our goal for that day or that moment, that it’s going to be alright at the end.”

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