Kurt Busch, who has been seemed to place a thorn in his own side throughout his stay in the NASCAR ranks, letting his temper and raw emotion get the best of him, recently found himself released from his Penske Racing No.22 seat after coming to a mutual agreement with Penske. The news of the departure came after a heated session between Busch and ESPN pit reporter, Dr. Jerry Punch went viral on Youtube.
Before Christmas, Busch and James Finch announced that Busch would be the teams driver of the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing. Busch was rumored to replace A.J. Allmendinger in the No. 43 for Richard Petty Motorsports( Allmendinger replaced Busch in the No.22 for 2012), but no deal came through.
The Phoenix Racing team, which has been a main-stay in NASCAR’s top ranks over the best two decades, has fielded cars in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series for numerous drivers. Some of those drivers include; Geoffrey Bodine,Landon Cassill, Bill Elliot, Brad Keselowski, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, Boris Said and Jimmy Spencer.
Finch, who recieves engines and chassis from Chevrolet partner Hendrick Motorsports, has found their greatest triumphs coming on the super speedways of NASCAR. Most notably, a win by Keselowski in the 2009 April race at Talladega Superspeedway and a third place finish in the 2002 Daytona 500 by Geoffrey Bodine. While Finch may have landed maybe his most talented driver ever in his twenty-plus year history in racing, the move comes at a time that will not only challenge Busch’s driving abilities, but also his emotions.
The No. 51 car is by far the worst ride the 2004 Cup champion has ever held in his time in NASCAR, as he has driven for Roush-Fenway Racing and Penske in recent years. But, that may be the least of Busch’s worries. After maybe his most scrutinized season to date, Busch is looking to “make racing fun again” after a heated 2011 season which saw its fair share of meltdowns and run-ins with Jimmie Johnson.
While the move to Phoenix Racing in 2012 may very well appear as a “downgrade” for Busch, it may also be just what he needs. As they say, when one door closes, another one opens. Maybe the door at Phoenix Racing is the very one that lifts Busch back to championship winning form over the next few seasons.