Kurt Busch’s career does not look good for the Las Vegas native. On Thursday, it was annouced that the elder Busch came to terms with James Finch and Phoenix Racing to drive the No. 51 in 2012.
Taking a ride with a team that has struggled to get a big name in the car since its creation is further proof of the downward spiral of Kurt Busch’s career. He began his career in 2000 with the premier Ford team in NASCAR, Roush Racing, he then went to work with the highly respected owner Roger Penske in 2006 to drive the Blue Duece Miller Lite car vacated by Rusty Wallace, who retired from the sport.
Since joining Penske, Busch has slowly gone downhill. First Busch got lifted from the No. 2 Miller Lite car and then this year he was relieved from his contract to drive the No. 22 Shell-Pennzil Dodge. After his season ending tirade at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Penske and Busch agreed to a mutual seperation. With the news that he is going to Phoenix Racing, many NASCAR fans wonder if this is the beginning of the end for Busch.
Bobby Labonte went through the same decline after leaving Joe Gibbs Racing in 2005. Labonte has never been a factor since winning a championship with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2000. Kurt Busch looks like he will suffer a similar fate racing for Phoenix Racing.
Kurt Busch has put himself in this position has has even admitted as much. Busch has seen been open about seeing a sports psychologist for his temper control problems and even consulted Tony Stewart to learn how to deal with his temper around his team and the media.
The Phoenix Racing deal looks like a raw deal for Busch, but James Finch is optimistic that he is the right many to put his team on the map in 2012. During the press conference on Thursday, Find couldn’t contain his excitement that he iwll have a former champion in his car and he will be able to supply him with Hendrick Motorsports engines and equipment. This deal is similar to what Stewart-Haas Racing has with HMS.
On Thursday, Finch told the media, “I told Kurt, I won’t fire you and you won’t quit. We’ll do whatever it takes- roll in the mud if we have to win.” Finch went on to say “I’ve worked contrustion all my life just so I could race and have a good time. I’ve worked iron workers, I worked construction workers, so working with a driver is not going to be a problem”
It poses interesting questions heading into the 54th Annual Daytona 500, Will Busch act as a fourth teammate for Stewart-Haas Racing and will he be able to lean on Hendrick Motorsports for technical support and drafting help during Daytona SpeedWeeks?
Time will definitely tell if Busch is on the verge of dropping into the ranks of being just a field filler, or if he will be a Phoenix rishing to the top of the NASCAR scene.