Only Kurt Busch could do the unthinkable. Time and time again, the 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion has lifted a struggling team to become triumphant. Chip Ganassi Racing is just the latest in Busch’s quest for another championship ring, and thus far, he’s on pace to potentially have his best season in NASCAR’s premier series.
When he beat younger brother Kyle Busch at Kentucky Speedway, he showed the entire garage that this 40-year-old can still get the job done. He proved that years of experience have paid off, putting the No. 1 car in victory lane for the first time since 2013. More importantly, Busch’s swagger on and off the track, combined with an innate ability to drive a racecar unlike many others, has made him a title favorite for the first time in years.
“I’ve never had an owner call me literally every Friday and go, alright, you qualified fourth this weekend, how is the race going to go?” Busch said after his win when asked about his relationship with owner Chip Ganassi. “You’ve got to be straight up with him. There’s no BS with Chip. I like that.”
Busch said that it only took a 30-minute phone call to seal the deal with Ganassi. The mutual respect was there.
But some have said this might be Busch’s last year in a Cup car. While he did admit he’s considered it, he didn’t say he’s made any decisions yet.
It would be a shame if Busch, who’s one of the baddest and most agile racers in the garage, would retire from full-time Cup racing. It would be yet another blow to NASCAR, which has lost the likes of Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Carl Edwards in a short span.
Busch’s demeanor is exactly what NASCAR needs. He literally doesn’t care what people think about him, and that’s perfect. Here’s a 40-year-old guy who is taking a mediocre program and elevating it to something special. Who else can Ganassi even get to do what Busch is doing behind the wheel?
When Jamie McMurray drove the No. 1 car, there were moments of brilliant driving every year. However, the consistency was lacking. It’s not that McMurray was a bad racer, but Busch knows how to get the most out of his equipment. Ganassi signed him because he can improve not just results, but the work ethic of those around him. He has this unique attitude that makes him a combination of Dale Earnhardt and Ryan Newman. He’s arguably the most intimidating racer out there right now, and he’s certainly one of the toughest to pass.
Now that Busch is piloting the No. 1 machine, the results are already paying off. He’s led 80 laps this year, compared to McMurray’s 50 combined since 2015 (44 in the No. 1 and six in the No. 40 in 2019). For the first time in Busch’s career, he has an average finish better than 10th (9.6 as of 19 races). If the consistency remains, he can surpass career-highs in top fives (12) and top 10s (21), currently recording five and 11, respectively.
Obviously, some media members don’t like Busch. He’s been short with them in the past and this year, he’s been extremely annoyed by the redundant questions during post-qualifying scrums.
Can you blame him though? Imagine if someone hits you in the face with a giant microphone (that can, by the way, pick up sound from far distances, so there’s no need to even shove it in someone’s face). Yeah, some media members have done that this year.
Oh, and let’s not forget about the horrific “tell me …” or “talk about …” Good for him. He should call them out for not doing their jobs properly. Want Busch to not be short with you? How about asking a real question?
In the many times I’ve encountered Busch, I’ve only had great experiences. He answers questions methodically and honestly, which is rare in 2019 NASCAR.
For everyone’s sake, let’s hope Busch doesn’t retire and stays racing for years to come. He pushes everyone, including his team, media and fans alike, to strive for the best.