Penske Racing's Kurt Busch confirmed that he has signed a multi-year agreement with Penske Racing to drive the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger beginning in 2011. WHEN WAS YOUR CONTRACT UP AND HAVE YOU TALKED TO ANY OTHER TEAMS ...
Penske Racing's Kurt Busch confirmed that he has signed a multi-year agreement with Penske Racing to drive the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Dodge Charger beginning in 2011.
WHEN WAS YOUR CONTRACT UP AND HAVE YOU TALKED TO ANY OTHER TEAMS BEFORE RE-SIGNING WITH PENSKE? "I knew that I was committed through 2010 and 2011's option was picked up by Roger (Penske). So what that meant was a perfect opportunity to talk about what the future could bring; not just 2011, but 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and beyond. We started with just a light-hearted sit down at a dinner one night, almost like one of those napkin sketches of, 'Hey, this is what I'd like to see and this is what might happen.' Then this (Shell/Pennzoil) opportunity just came up a few weeks ago and it changed the whole landscape that we ended up with.
"No, I didn't talk to any other teams. When I weighed my options personally, with my wife Eva and my manager (John Caponigro), we looked at other teams, we tried to find scenarios that would fit for us, but none of them were as powerful as creating the longevity with Penske."
IS THERE ANY HESITATION WALKING AWAY FROM THE MILLER LITE SPONSORSHIP AFTER ALL THE YEARS THAT YOU WORKED WITH THEM? "The more the game changes, the more that it stays the same. This is a scenario where I felt the Miller family and all their executives are good friends of mine and we were in a partnership together. You're the name and image of the brand associated on the motorsports side of it, which was a great feeling to have. Those ties aren't cut; I'll still be with those guys. They'll be at Penske Racing. We've developed a great partnership. Our name goes really well together on and off the track. And all of the other cross-promotions that we've done with baseball, football, basketball, that's my big thing that I'll lose a little bit of, but anytime that I need to give them a call, there will be opportunities to help them out on some other end. With the global alliance that Shell has and the notoriety that they are known for with their motorsports program, that speaks for itself. It will be an interesting step for me to learn as we move forward. In a nutshell, it was a tough decision to step away from something...because I'm such a loyal guy and I'm very committed to any program that I start, but in the end, being committed to Roger Penske is the ultimate balance."
DID YOU HAVE ANY CHOICE IN PICKING THE CAR NUMBER 22? "I threw a couple numbers out to Roger that I'd like to see -- some of my favorites, something new and refreshing. The No. 2 stays with Miller Lite. It's the Blue Deuce. That pairing -- Miller Lite and the No. 2 -- I didn't want to infringe on and Miller Lite folks were happy to hear that they were going to keep the No. 2 because they were pushing for that really hard. The No. 12 is in the Penske stable. The No. 22 has been picked up -- the old Bill Davis car -- and, to me, looks refreshing. It will be nice to have it out on the track next year because it's still looking for its identity. It won the Daytona 500 with Ward Burton and Bill Davis. Me and my Dad were just looking at the numbers in (NASCAR) history. Fireball Roberts was a legendary driver and he was good in the late '50's and '60's with the number 22. It's exciting that there's a new number and look that will be generated over at Penske racing, but it's also exciting that the Miller Lite No. 2 car...the Blue Deuce...will be under our stable and in good hands with Brad."
DO YOU FEEL AWKWARD FOR SAM WHO NOW IS WITHOUT A SPONSORED CAR FOR 2011? DO YOU THINK THAT YOU WILL HAVE A THIRD PENSKE CUP CAR NEXT YEAR? "That's the most refreshing part of it, my deal is done and I'm signed long-term and I don't have to worry about the silly season. Brad's settled in. Sam's is definitely part of our program and will be a part of Penske Racing. I know that 2011 will be picked up for his (contract) option. He will be driving for Penske next year. What I hope happens in the upcoming months is that a secure sponsor comes to allow him to sign a multi-year deal and move forward. That way we can put all of that behind us in the summer months and be ready to rip in 2011.
DO I FEEL LIKE HE'S THE ODD MAN OUT? "I feel a little bit odd in the whole scenario, but you're never on pins and needles working for Roger Penske."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT SOME OF THE PARTICULARS OF THE NEW CONTRACT WITH US? "I'm not really obligated (at liberty) to talk about it. It's a multi-year agreement with Penske and Penske Corporation and myself and Shell/Pennzoil."
IS IT ANY DIFFERENT THAT THE CONTRACT THAT YOU HAD WITH PENSKE PREVIOUSLY? "No, it's not any different in any way. It's very similar."
WAS THE DECISION TO RE-SIGN WITH PENSKE ABOUT LONGIVITY? "It definitely crossed my mind to work with Roger on a lifetime-type deal. This program presented itself...and it happened at such a quick time frame that it didn't allow time to develop any further. It was almost like, 'Hey, you going with me? I've gotta go make this happen. It was a situation that I felt very comfortable with; I now know Roger for working with him the last five years. I definitely look to have my career end here at Penske Racing; hopefully that's 10-15 years down the road. Being only 31 years-old, there's still so much potential, blue sky, and so much fun that we can have together. I look at the business-to-business relationship as being an important factor in signing with Roger."
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT WHAT IT MEANS TO YOU THAT SHELL MADE IT A POINT THAT THEY WANTED YOU? "One of the prerequisites from Shell was that I would be driving the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge in 2011. That was really the only option that they gave us. So it didn't fit for Brad. It didn't fit for Sam. It's not my place to say who we were up against, competing (for the deal). The names that were in the mix, it was a really powerful group. And for them to side with us and to commit to Roger and myself makes me feel very special. It's humbling in one sense because it's such a big organization, globally known and recognized. Just talking with some of their executives over the phone, it has all the potential in the world to be one of the biggest programs that we've seen in Cup in some time. The business-to-business side and what they bring from a global alliance was very powerful and helped make the decision with them and Roger."
DO YOU THINK HOW CUP DRIVERS ACCEPT CHANGE SEPARATES THEM FROM OTHERS? "There are quite a few hats that you have to wear in this sport. When I first came in, I was just so focused on driving the car that I didn't look at anything else. When business pops up, you learn to adapt and you try to grow within yourself and grow in the walls that you're given. To have the opportunity to team up with Roger on this deal was something that I couldn't pass up."
-source: dodge motorsports