The Frontstretch: Kurt Busch Out At Penske Racing by Amy Henderson -- Monday December 5, 2011

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Kurt Busch Out At Penske Racing

Amy Henderson · Monday December 5, 2011


Kurt Busch will not return to Penske Racing in 2012. According to a Charlotte Observer report Busch has been released from the No. 22 Penske Dodge, and a formal announcement from Penske Racing is expected on Monday. At the moment, Busch’s legal counsel has denied this story, according to the AP’s Jenna Fryer on her twitter feed, claiming Penske Racing has not made any type of decision on the future. However, several sources with knowledge of the situation confirm that a divorce from Penske is imminent.

There is no immediate word on who will replace Busch. Brian Vickers and Casey Mears, according to multiple sources, are near the top of the list of candidates while Ford is working to hold onto David Ragan. As of last week, Frontstretch sources had Ragan in a part-time, investor-funded Ford Cup ride for 2012 that was being negotiated but with the Busch scenario unfolding, that could change. Penske also employs Sam Hornish, Jr., who was poised to run a full-time Nationwide Series schedule in 2012 and has run Sprint Cup full-time in the past. Parker Kligerman, running the full-time Truck Series schedule for Brad Keselowski Racing next season is a longshot.

The release comes on the heels of a $50,000 fine from NASCAR for an obscene gesture and an obscenity-laced tirade at ESPN pit reporter Dr. Jerry Punch, who was attempting to interview Busch following a transmission failure at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The scene was caught on video and has almost a million views on You Tube. Penske Racing issued a statement last week that they were reviewing the situation internally, adding that Busch’s behavior was not representative of the organization and did not issue a vote of confidence on his future.

It is unclear where Busch could end up in 2012, especially without sponsorship. However, the veteran – who acknowledged that he is seeing a sports psychologist – is one of just three drivers to win the Cup Series championship under the current Chase format. While accomplishing that feat with Roush Racing, in 2004 Busch was also highly successful with Penske. In six full seasons there, from 2006-11 he has ten victories, four Chase appearances and 90 top-10 finishes in 216 starts.

The Frontstretch’s Mike Neff and Tom Bowles also contributed to this report.

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©2000 - 2008 Amy Henderson and Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!

12/05/2011 05:33 AM

I thought Kyle would get it first but these guys have to realize they can only act like a dumba$$ for so long before owners sponsors and fans have had enough he needs Jimmy Spencer to visit him again sad thing is he is a very talented driver

12/05/2011 08:15 AM

I’d really like to see Reutimann in the ride. He deserves a break and would love to see what he can do in top flight equipment.

Stephen HOOD
12/05/2011 09:26 AM

I’m not a fan of Kurt Busch but I want him driving in good equipment in NASCAR. I think he’s exciting to watch and I like that he won’t let anyone intimidate him including his @sshat of a brother. I hope the story is wrong and Penske/Shell Penzoil come to their senses. They aren’t gonna win with Vickers/Ragan/Reutimann, although I hope Reutimann is the driver if Busch is out.

Bill B
12/05/2011 09:33 AM

Good! Maybe if he has to spend a season riding for a second tier team he will appreciate it when a top tier ride is offered to him in the future.
Roger Penske has principles and sticks to them even if it means it costs him time and money to do so. Joe Gibbs, on the other hand, swallows his morals every time they clash with making money.

12/05/2011 09:40 AM

Couldn’t have happened to a better guy. Busch family arrogance has finally cost one of them. Maybe a year running start-and-park equipment will make Kurt appreciate what he had.

Vito Pugliese - FS Staff
12/05/2011 10:32 AM

Disappointing that the most interesting character in the series got canned for being worth listening too. However, most sponsors don’t like to see their driver losing it on everybody 36 weeks a year. Keep in mind if it wasn’t for Kurt’s mega-meltdown at Richmond, neither of the Penske cars – or Dodge – would have won races or been contenders this year.

12/05/2011 10:38 AM

I would love to see Reuti in this car.

Michael in SoCal
12/05/2011 10:41 AM

Who thinks we’ll see him driving for his brother’s Nationwide Team?

Glen H.
12/05/2011 11:22 AM

Sucks to be Kurt Busch huh? Divorce, no job, mental issues…

Good driver but his personal issues outweigh his driving ability. Hopefully he can step back, take a look at himself and get his mind right.

Looks like David Ragan to the 22 car.

Sue Rarick
12/05/2011 11:25 AM

I wouldn’t worry about Kurt. I will bet dimes to dollars that Penske and Shell had to pay a small fortune to get out of this cleanly. Anyone want to talk about Shell’s environmental track record when it comes to high moral character? Or how about some of the pending Penske lawsuits?

It could have gotten real ugly without a settelment.

Carl D.
12/05/2011 12:01 PM

My guess, and it’s just that, is that David Ragan keeps the #22 seat warm until Sam Hornish gets another year of “seasoning” in the Nationwide series.

12/05/2011 12:11 PM

man now if we could get Reuti in that car what a cinderella story that would be, good guy in #$$hole out. while we are cleaning house lets get rid of Darrell and digger for a perfect ending.

12/05/2011 12:35 PM

…and queue the haters…

i’m certainly no kurt fan and i agree he certainly does seem pretty prickly, (i still say he needs another session with jimmie spencer,) but when i watch that u tube video, i can certainly work up a small bit of sympathy/empathy for him in THAT particular situation. Much more importantly, his bad boy antics provide something that nascar is desperately in need of.. you fill in the blank, (i’m thinking of words like real drama, passion, racing and excitement.) i find it interesting that even Forbes magazine is weighing in on this. yes Forbes (you know, that little magazine that the Frances are more interested in than SI,) saying “NASCAR has become too wimpy for its own good” among a few other things. you can find the article and see some rather telling footage (an interesting conversation between Kurt and JJ) at the forbes site. it was written by Mike Ozanian and remember, this is a site for business not sports.

finally, i wonder now that kurt is gone for a bit, tony and brad have been castrated and kyle has an appointment to be neutered at the same vet, who’s going to be the next to suffer the haters? The field will be so squeaky clean that even less people will want to watch.

it’s NOT the economy, stupid.

12/05/2011 12:44 PM

remember when kurt said that jimmy spencer was like running with old decrepped has beens?now the shoes on the other foot.

12/05/2011 01:14 PM

How about Reagan Smith in the #22? He has won with sub par equipment and that is someting David Reagan, Vickers and Reuitaman cannot say. I cant believe Casey Mears would even be in this conversation.

12/05/2011 02:34 PM

Well said babydufus

12/05/2011 05:50 PM

“Tony and brad have been castrated and kyle has an appointment to be neutered at the same vet”, great line babydufus.

12/05/2011 05:50 PM

There is something not being said here, we, the public, see only what we are allowed to see. Busch, who I have always referred to as a Bodine in drag, finally pushed it too far. We don’t know but a portion of the story. I guarantee he is 10x worse than any of us imagine. In the end, the primadonna left because his sponsors, his coworkers, and his employers couldn’t stand to work with him a second longer.

Bill B
12/05/2011 07:53 PM

If you throw out everything else but the interaction between Kurt and his team during the race, it would still be enough to can him. When he continually goes off like a child (with an adult’s vocabulary) he does nothing to make things better. It just makes the team that more demoralized.

And yeah, there were some that SPECULATED that his tirade earlier in the season was responsible for some sort of resurgence at Penske. Maybe it was and maybe it wasn’t but if it did it was coincidence. I think it’s safe to say that Kurt was just being Kurt, and arrogant profane SOB. There was no master plan by him to act that way to light a fire under the team.

Shayne Flaherty
12/05/2011 08:57 PM

Kurt has the past champion’s provisional in his pocket, which is helpful for a start and park operation. I’ll bet Kurt’s former wife won’t settle for a reduction in her standard of living. Better get Kyle a good divorce attorney, because he’s next.


Contact Amy Henderson

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