Monday, December 5, 2011

Kurt Busch done at Penske, might be done as a regular contender

While one Busch brother narrowly avoided losing his job late in the season, the other did lose his job after the season.

Kurt Busch won’t be back in the #22 car in 2012. He and Penske Racing said they agreed it would be best for somebody else to represent the Shell/Pennzoil brand in NASCAR.

Who that somebody else is remains to be seen, but the ramifications of this decision will likely be much worse for Busch than it will be for his former-owner Roger Penske.

Penske has an up-and-coming star in Brad Keselowski, who came out of nowhere to finish fifth in the points standings and threatened to become the face of Penske Racing in just his second year with the team. Plus, the #22 car will be a sought-after ride for many drivers.

Busch, on the other hand, might say he has several options for what to do next season, but there doesn’t appear to be many good options, at least in NASCAR’s top series.

Busch said in one of his many interviews to try and save face that NHRA might be an option. He did compete in the Gatornationals in March, but this is a former NASCAR champion we are talking about. Might he have burned so many bridges that he has to essentially switch sports?

This type of situation is nearly unfathomable. Sure, there have been plenty of prima-donnas in other professional sports such as baseball, basketball and football, but guys with talent usually stick around until they get old enough that they aren’t productive anymore. Examples: Rickey Henderson, Shaquille O’Neal and Terrell Owens.

Busch is still a productive driver. He has been in the Chase four of the last five years and won nine races during that span. If things fell his way, he could be a regular championship contender at Homestead. However, things haven’t fallen his way, but it isn’t because of luck. Busch has cost himself chances to contend for the championship.

No driver gets a perfect car every week, but most drivers are patient, take care of their equipment and try to make the most out of what they have during a given race. Take Carl Edwards, for example. Edwards had a chance to win this year’s championship because he didn’t get down on his team and drove through the rough patches during a race to come up with a good finish by the end.

Busch could be the same way. That #22 team had enough talent throughout the team, good enough equipment and enough funding to finish at or near the top of the standings. But, that didn’t happen because Busch chopped at his own success every time he exploded on the radio, participated in feuds with other drivers and popped off repeatedly to media members.

In the June race at Kansas, Busch told his team within the first 10 laps of the race the car was so loose he would drop all the way to the back of the pack. It turned out the car wasn’t as bad as he first thought, and he ended up with a ninth-place finish and led 152 laps. Part of that is because the crew worked on the car during the race, but Busch never fell farther back than 11th in the entire race.

The NASCAR pickings are pretty slim for Busch at this point. There really isn’t a fully sponsored ride available. Plus, drivers such as David Ragan, David Reutimann and Brian Vickers are also looking for Cup rides, and each of them haven’t burned bridges with teams and sponsors, although it’s unlikely Vickers will be in a Ford anytime soon.

The sad part of this entire situation is how much talent is being wasted. Busch could’ve still competed to win not only races, but championships in the #22 car.

Those types of rides are precious, as Busch will quickly find out while he wallows with a second-tier team in 2012.


  1. Your going under the old assumption that the driver needs NASCAR.....The fact is with the money the top drivers make today, none of the drivers need NASCAR.
    Kurt can retire from NASCAR and persue his hobby of drag racing and still have plenty of money left over.

  2. I hope he does and maybe his mouthy brother will retire with him. Nobody deserves to be treated like Dr Punch and his crew endured. Goodbye, glad to see you go.

  3. What a joke. Stewart has abused more writers than everyone else put together.

  4. Sitting out a year may be a wake up call for Kurt. The video he put out yesterday was an infomercial spotlighting his accomplishments. Not once did he apologize for any boorish behavior, or say that he regretted anything that he did. Gotta admire a man that sticks to his guns.

  5. Thats funny Gene...someone I know said it sounded like a verbal resume. Regardless, shows you how hard his agent is scrambling to change the narrative out there.

    Unlikely he sits but if he doesn't land a quality ride (the rumors I hear about #20 car would be great for Kurt but the worst possible thing for his "self improvement" as it would simply reward the boorish behavior) he might wish he'd sat because I don't see him capable at the moment of running around with no hope of top 20 finishes...let alone wins.

    3x a charm maybe (Roush, Miller, Penske)?

  6. It is high time that someone finally demonstrates that they have testicles and send that creep down the road. Thank you Mr. Penske for firing the punk that worked for you and was steadily but surely ruining the reputation of your entire motorsports operation. I am refreshed to see someone with enough sense to realise that the money was not worth the embarrassment and aggravation of employing a Busch. Now if another team owner would quit worshipping at the altar of a quick buck and fire Kurts equally mentally ill younger brother the sport of NA$CAR would lose another big problem and gain back the respect that has gone away since these pariahs came on the scene. Good riddance to bad garbage.

  7. Sue - While Busch might have plenty of money, I would bet he got into racing because he loves it and not for the money. Regardless of what he says, it is devastating for someone to get fired from a job they love. Deep down, these drivers love racing.

    Gene - Well I hope he still doesn't regret it when he's driving for a team that may have never finished in the top 20 in points.

    klvalus - Would Gibbs really give up on Logano to have both Busches on his team?