In what is being called a “mutual agreement”, Kurt Busch and Roger Penske have parted ways.
In a statement released on Monday morning, Penske Racing said “I appreciate the victories that Kurt has brought Penske Racing and our sponsors over the past six years. While I am disappointed that Kurt will not be racing for our team in the future, both Kurt and I felt that separating at this time was the best for all parties, including our team and sponsors. I wish Kurt the best in his future racing endeavors.”
In a video released on Kurt Busch’s website, Busch went on to say that he was “grateful to Penske Racing for six very productive years. Together we won a lot of races-16 in all. Leaving a great organization and a lucrative contract is not easy, but it is an important step for me and allows me to take a deep breath o work on things that can make me a better driver and a better person. I want to personally thank Roger Penske for the opportunity he has given me.”
Most seats in the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season have been filled, so where the former champion will go is still up in the air. The hot question now is: Who will replace Kurt Busch in the No. 22 Shell Dodge and who will be the driver’s crew chief? David Ragan has emerged as the frontrunner to replace Busch, according to many sources. As you will recall, Steve Addington left Penske Racing last week to become the crew chief for the current NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion.
Busch has admitted he has issues and is working with a sports psychologist. Obviously the sponsors were not happy, as well as NASCAR as they fined Busch $50,000 last week for his tirade with Dr. Jerry Punch at the season finale Ford 400.
The 2011 season was somewhat up and down but devolved overall for Kurt Busch and the No. 22 team. He started the season with four Top-1os and perched atop of the Sprint Cup point standings. However, some struggles ensued and Busch dropped down but was still in the Top 10 heading into Memorial Day Weekend. A fourth place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 was followed by three straight poles and a win at Sonoma. While he bounced around the Top 10 in points, he complained incessantly. After winning at Dover, Busch would not grab another top 10 finish over the final seven races of the year and ended up 11th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points.
Busch had 10 wins in six seasons at Penske Racing with his best year in 2009, when he won twice and finished fourth in points.
Busch would seem at a crossroads in his career. At 33, he’s still young enough to rebuild his character and image but without a quality team to drive for, he may find it hard to get go
Penske Racing will need to secure a driver and crew chief quickly. There are very few crew chiefs available at this time, including Darian Grubb.
Hopefully both can find an answer.
Stay tuned to StockCarSpin.com for the latest information as this story develop