Kurt Busch apologizes to Jerry Punch

Busch and girlfriend prior to Gatorade Duel

Busch and girlfriend prior to Gatorade Duel

Kurt Busch’s harsh comments to ESPN’s Jerry Punch were caught on camera by a fan following his early exit from the 2011 Sprint Cup finale. Busch, who has since parted ways with Penske Racing, apologized to the reporter Thursday giving him a hug and telling him that he was “sorry with the way last year ended.”

Busch is piloting the #51 Chevrolet for James Finch this year on a one year deal while he searches for ways to make racing fun again. Busch has never won a restrictor plate race but is considered one of the better drivers at Daytona and Talladega. In 2008 he helped then teammate Ryan Newman win the Daytona 500.

Since his departure from Penske Racing, Busch has enlisted the help of a sports psychologist as he seeks to make racing fun again. In addition to his comments to Punch, Busch had arguments with crew chief Steve Addington when word circulated that Addington was planning to leave the #22 team at seasons end. Busch also struggled to accept the rise of teammate Brad Keselowski and saw his rivalry with Jimmie Johnson as a comic book.

Last season Busch won at Sonoma and Dover. The 2004 Sprint Cup Champion has 24 career wins on his resume.