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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Fire on Fridays: What’s Next for Kurt Busch?

If you didn’t know he was 40 years old, the numbers tell you Kurt Busch may be near the top of his game.

Sure, he’s in his first season with Chip Ganassi Racing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, still working out the kinks that come along with joining a new organization and new manufacturer. But he’s on par with (and most of the time outrunning) his teammate Kyle Larson and challenging for wins.

If Monday’s race at Michigan International Speedway were a few laps longer, Busch may have wound up in victory lane. A second-place finish (tied for his best of 2019) highlighted the Las Vegas native’s season to date, one that started off extremely well with four straight top fives and seven top 10s in the first 10 races.

However, 2019 may be Busch’s final year as a full-time Cup competitor.

He signed a one-year contract with CGR this offseason, bringing sponsorship from Monster Energy along. So far, ComSurv, Global Poker and Gear Wrench have also served as primary sponsors, meaning Monster’s support of the No. 1 is in a limited capacity.

But he’s been relatively open that this may indeed be it for him, a former champion and 30-time winner at the sport’s highest level. During the rare off weekend, he’ll be overseas in France, checking out the 24 Hours of Le Mans — an event that may lend some credence to the possibility of his 2020 plans, per NBC Sports.

“My first step is next week to go with Chip Ganassi to Le Mans and check out the GT program that he has and to experience Le Mans as a fan,” Busch said. “And also can I get a ride for next year and see how that plays out and does the schedule work out next year.”

It wouldn’t be the first time a NASCAR driver of consequence has stopped into the sports car world. Most recently, AJ Allmendinger, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jeff Gordon and others have participated in the 24 Hours of Daytona, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. doing so with his late father in 2001.

If Busch were to leave NASCAR at season’s end, his career would be remembered as, ultimately, a really damn successful one, consisting of 30 wins, a championship and being one of those drivers with as much raw talent behind the wheel as anybody to sit in a stock car.

It’ll also be remembered for what could have been — plus the outbursts, leading to firings, leading to landing rides at smaller, non-established teams while Busch was in his prime (according to some).

If he walks away, I’ll be left wondering what could be.

This dude has more to give. David Smith of Motorsports Analytics and The Athletic preaches that a driver’s peak age is 39. Busch will turn 41 later this summer.

OK, he’s past his prime. But I’m not going to list all the drivers that won races and contended for championships past the age of 39.

Whatever Busch chooses to do beyond 2019, whether it be staying in NASCAR, exploring sports cars with Ganassi’s inventory, foraying into IndyCar or anything in between, one thing is certain.

He’ll be damn good at it. Always has been, always will be.

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About Davey Segal

Davey Segal
Davey serves an editor for the site and heads Frontstretch in 60, Fire on Friday's and The Frontstretch Awards. He recently graduated from Michigan State University with a bachelor's degree in sports journalism and is originally from Rockville, Md. He has an extreme passion for sports and has been following the sport of NASCAR since 2002, when he attended his first race at Dover. He also is a reporter for NASCAR Home Tracks covering the K&N Pro Series.

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13 comments

  1. Avatar
    Sara Alejandra Gutierrez

    Kurt Busch was a good one to his brother Kyle Busch

  2. Avatar

    Kurt is the most capable driver to carry any “not always top ” car !!! His talent to jump in any machine and manage it like he’s been running it for years is second to none . Recall the Dodge ProStock , The INDY car …
    Furniture Row !! No doubt Kurt got them on the right track …
    I was convinced Kurt would be the one getting Roger’s first Championship !
    For sure if he wants to run another cup year , I would let him. Any NASCAR Team is better with Kurt than without.
    Hopefully he can get one extra year without major any change , that you just make netter what you already know

  3. Avatar

    Would not be surprised to see Kurt in a broadcast booth at some point. He’s very well-spoken without being robotic.

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      I’ve always thought the same thing that he could be for NASCAR what Eddie cheever was for Indy Cars broadcasting lineup. A quick-witted, articulate, engaging and knowledgeable personality who can be enjoyable to listen to. Here’s hoping Fox picks him up to replace Waltrip.

    • Avatar

      You must have missed some of his more colourful moments. A lot of descriptors come to mind, well-spoken isn’t one of them. I do like the guy though, always have, but you have to be realistic about him.

  4. Avatar

    Rumors are flying around that a “major team” may leave Cup after this season. Ganassi’s Cup team is a possible candidate that has been bouncing around social media “peanut gallery” the last few days. His IndyCar program is going pretty well, but his sports car team is in trouble now that Ford is pulling out. Does Chip stay in Cup, or does he go? Who knows!? And that probably includes Chip.

    As for KuBu, he has passed through several front-line teams over the years and has burned a few bridges. His deal with Monster is also coming to an end. While he is still a great wheelman, his bad boy reputation and limited upside to potential sponsors will probably send him off to semi-retirement.

  5. Avatar

    Kurt has been my favorite driver ever since Ricky Rudd retired! I’ll just put it out there, “if Kurt had spent his entire career driving for JGR he would have won 100 races by now! But he’s The Outlaw, and has always liked to raise hell and have fun!” I’ll take all bets he wins at least one race this year! Go Kurt Busch, love ya dude!

  6. Avatar

    If this was 15 or 10 years ago, I would think Chip is Nuts to put Kurt behind the wheel. But Kurt is very competitive and a Great racer. I look forward to the possibility of Kurt racing in a Ford GT! See if you can catch those Blazing Fast Corvettes!

    • Avatar

      In GTE/GTLM, the only thing that decides what car wins is the BOP. It is the most shameless fake racing ever invented and I struggle to understand why manufacturers would want to be part of it. Maybe because so many people refuse to see the reality and are so easily duped these days. Plus the fact that they are guaranteed a win now and then no matter how bad or good their junk is. BOP racing is fake racing.

  7. Avatar

    Years ago I would have been chapter president of the Kurt Busch haters club….Then he turned me around completely. Any person who recognizes a problem, tackles it and comes out better for it, as Kurt has, gets my support!

  8. Avatar

    Ganassi will leave NASCAR nest season. Monster is out Kurt is done and Kyle wants to switch teams. Be careful what you wish for Kyle.

  9. Avatar

    Kurt grew up a lot, got rid of the tramp and quit drinking so much. No denying his talent or ability to realize what a car needs. I wish him well in whatever he does.

    • Avatar

      Amen. From Jimmy Spencer giving him a lesson to the Phoenix law enforcement teaching him humility, Kurt has rebounded a ton. Tenacity is his middle name. He has become one of my favorite drivers.