Nancy Knapp Schilke
The 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Kurt Busch has found a ride for the 2012 season with team owner James Finch. After his departure from Penske Racing, Busch has been looking for what he considered the right ride for himself and today announced that he would drive the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet Impala.
"I’m very happy to join Phoenix Racing and after entertaining a lot of quality offers, there’s no better place for me,” said Busch who is a 24 time career Cup winner. He added, “We’re going to run the full schedule together, and we’re going to have fun doing it.”
In the 2011 season, Busch made the Chase Cup cut as one of the top 12 drivers but due to his actions at the season finale in Homestead, Fla., he was fined $50,000 by NASCAR. Busch showed disrespect to a member of the media which was becoming a common thread of his temperament.
It’s going to be old-school racing, where we show up, race hard and go for the win.
At Homestead-Miami Speedway, Dr. Jerry Punch was the focus of his attention and Busch made an inappropriate hand gesture as Busch was on his way to his team’s garage due to transmission problems which put him out of the race in the early going.
Thus NASCAR found him in violation of Section 12-1 of the 2011 NASCAR Rule Book which states: Actions detrimental to stock car racing – inappropriate hand gesture; abusive language. His then team owner, Roger Penske apologized to Dr. Punch and other members of the media.
While rumors floated since his leaving Penske, there were many who felt it would be difficult for the 2004 champ to land a ride but today Busch is a happy person and he commented, “It’s going to be old-school racing, where we show up, race hard and go for the win. And if we don’t win, we’ll go back to the shop, work hard and do it all over again next week. That’s the way we all started racing, and it’s great to get back to that.”
In his statement after leaving Penske, Busch said: “I recognize the passion and emotion that have helped me succeed on the track need to be better channeled off the track. The past few months I began working with a sports psychologist to help me better deal with my emotions, especially following moments of frustration during competition.”
Apparently he feels that working with James Finch and the Phoenix Racing crew will allow him to “have fun again”.
Finch might not be one of the most well-known names by the NASCAR fans but he has been a team owner for 20 years in the Cup series. The South Carolina-based team has won 13 career Cup wins, including the 2009 Talladega race with Brad Keselowski. It was a race that many will remember as Carl Edwards and Keselowski were on the final lap and heading out of Turn 4, the crowd was on their feet.
Edwards stayed low in order to block Keselowski but the then part-time driver in the Cup series bumped Edwards who went flying into the air and as he came down he touched Ryan Newman’s car which then sent Edwards into the fence between the track and the main grandstand. No one was seriously injured and Edwards even climbed out of his car and ran to the finish line. It was Keselowski’s first win! Newman managed to finish third behind Dale Earnhardt Jr. Keselowski now is the ex-teammate of Busch, who was also a possible winner on that final lap.
Kurt’s the guy who can deliver it to them.
Finch is now the team owner that Busch will drive for next year beginning at the NASCAR Daytona International Speedway non-points Shootout as the winner of the event this year. “All we want to do is win,” Finch said. “Winning is why I’ve been in racing for as long as I have, but NASCAR is a very competitive sport, and winning – especially at the Sprint Cup level – is hard.
“But now with Kurt Busch as our driver, we have a shot to win every week. He’s a past champion and he’s proven he can win everywhere. Our sponsors are looking forward to Kurt representing their brands. We have excellent equipment and a hard-working group of guys who want that trophy at the end of every race. Kurt’s the guy who can deliver it to them,” added his new team owner.