NASCAR fans got the surprise of their lives when top racer KURT BUSCH was spotted kissing a pretty blonde following a recent victory – and the beauty wasn’t his wife EVA!
Incredibly, only after the new gal was identified as 33-year-old Patricia Driscoll did Busch acknowledge that he had split from his wife of five years and that they’ve been secretly embroiled in a divorce since early June.
Kurt’s flagrant flaunting of his new squeeze has ignited a messy sex scandal, rocking a sport associated with American family values.
“This was a complete public relations debacle for Kurt,” declared a close source. “Here he was, winning a race after a long drought, and he’s cozying up to a gal in the winner’s circle who’s not his wife – right on national TV!
“Other drivers knew Kurt and Eva had split, but he had made no public announcement about it. So he ended up looking like a total heel.”
Kurt, 33, had long ago spun out with fans over his unruly behavior. But they liked 34- year-old Eva and credited her with getting her bad boy husband back on track after he was named the third most hated athlete in America.
Winner of 23 NASCAR Sprint Cup races, Kurt – the brother of racing superstar Kyle – has been known to be as temperamental as he is talented.
Kurt won the overall NASCAR championship in 2004, but his race sponsor Newell Rubbermaid still considered dumping him over his surly attitude.
The following year, his team owner, Roush Racing, gave Busch the heave-ho after he clashed with cops during a Phoenix, Ariz., traffic stop.
But friends say he shifted gears and became a more likeable guy thanks to his 2006 marriage to Eva.
“She was great for Kurt – she was by his side for all his races and was well-liked at the track,” divulged a friend. “A lot of people said she helped make a man out of him. He didn’t act like a spoiled brat around the track any longer.”Still, his friend says that Kurt became increasingly restless.
“This sport is hard on relationships and marriages – it’s an 11-months-out-of-the-year job and you’re on the road constantly. You could tell Kurt wasn’t happy.”
But the driver kept his lips sealed about his marital crash even as he began squiring Patricia, the chief executive of Maryland-based Frontline Defense Systems.
“It was a bad move on Kurt’s part not to give NASCAR fans some clue about what was going on in his personal life,” said the close source. “Fans had a reason to hate him all over again!”
It wasn’t until Kurt roared into the victory lane recently at California’s Infineon Raceway that he broke the stunning news – by kissing Patricia.
Meanwhile, a rep for Kurt confirmed to The ENQUIRER the divorce is being finalized but said it is “amicable and respectful,” and “each wishes the other only the best.”