Driver Kurt Busch Is Out At Penske Racing
By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
Kurt Busch and Penske Racing have split.
The team made the announcement this morning on its website, calling the split a mutual decision.
The story on the site read in part:
“Penske Racing announced today that it has reached a mutual agreement with driver Kurt Busch to end its driver/race team relationship, effective immediately.
“The team will evaluate its options for the driver of the No. 22 Sprint Cup Series car in the future while Busch will seek new opportunities with another race team.”
The story on the website also quotes team owner Roger Penske, who said, “I appreciate the victories that Kurt has brought Penske Racing and our sponsors over the past six years. While I am disappointed that Kurt will not be racing for our team in the future, both Kurt and I felt that separating at this time was best for all parties, including our team and sponsors. I wish Kurt the best in his future racing endeavors.”
Busch issued a statement a bit later.
That statement read:
“I am grateful to Penske Racing for six very productive years. Together we won a lot of races – 16 in all. I’m proud that we won on a variety of tracks and this past season reached Victory Lane four times. Another highlight was pushing my teammate to a Daytona 500 win. I also appreciate the lasting friendships I’ve made while working with our great sponsors through the years, including Miller Lite, Shell and Dodge.
“Coming to a mutual agreement to go our separate ways is a positive step for me. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I took time to reflect on what is most important to me and realized I need to find a way to put the fun back into racing. It’s time for a fresh start. Leaving a great organization and a lucrative contract is not easy, but it allows me to take a deep breath and work on things that can make me a better driver and a better person.
“I recognize the passion and emotion that have helped me succeed on the track need to be better channeled off the track. The past few months I began working with a sports psychologist to help me better deal with my emotions, especially following moments of frustration during competition.
“I never want to take for granted that it’s a privilege to earn a living as a NASCAR driver. As I begin this new chapter in my career, I’m excited about the future and committed to making the changes necessary for me to enjoy racing again, to compete for championships and to better represent NASCAR, my sponsors, my team and my fans.
“I want to personally thank Roger Penske for the opportunity he gave me and for his friendship, which will continue long into the future.”
The Charlotte, N.C., daily newspaper had reported on Sunday night that the decision by Penske over the weekend. Several other sources said the announcement would be made on Monday.
At mid-morning, the announcement was made.
Busch’s profanity-laced rant at ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch in the garages at Homestead-Miami Speedway during the final race of the season, and the issuing of a profane gesture while in the car, has brought a lot of attention to the driver and team.
NASCAR fined Busch $50,000 for the Homestead incidents.
Penske, team officials and Busch have all apologized for the rant, and Busch has said he is seeing a sports psychologist in the wake of the incident.
Busch is the 2004 Cup champion, a title he won with Roush Fenway Racing.
This season, he earned a berth in the Chase but attracted unwanted attention when, on several occasions, he ripped into his team on the two-way radio during races.
A couple of weeks ago, it was announced that his crew chief, Steve Addington, was quitting. Addington has subsequently been hired to be Tony Stewart’s crew chief.
Busch has also been involved with other scrapes with the media this year.
He has 24 career victories, including two in 2011. He won one of the 10 Chase races this year, but Busch finished 11th in points .3 Comments