Kurt Busch fired from Penske Racing
Sunday, Dec 4, 2011
Kurt Busch's days with Penske Racing are apparently over.
Three days after the driver said he's seeing a sports psychologist to address what he described as "personal issues," sources told The Charlotte Observer's Jim Utter that the driver will not return next season in the team's No. 22 Dodge. Utter reported an official announcement on Busch's departure will come Monday from the Penske organization.
There appears to be few options for Kurt Busch now that he's out at Penske Racing. (AP Photo)
But The Associated Press' Jenna Fryer wrote on her Twitter account that Busch's lawyers were saying otherwise, calling the report on the firing "not accurate" and urging reporters to "promptly and responsibly check your facts for accuracy with Bud Denker of Penske Corporation." Denker is senior vice president of Penske.
NASCAR.com reported on its website that officials with Penske Racing will meet Monday to discuss Busch's future. During that meeting, it's believed an announcement of some sort is expected during the day. One source said it was more likely it would be announced that Busch and Penske were mutually parting ways rather than the driver being fired.
Several sources are reporting David Ragan is the leading candidate to replace Busch. Ragan, 26, spent the 2011 season with Roush Fenway Racing but lost his ride when the organization couldn't find sponsorship for him next season.
Busch's temper has gotten the best of him on several occasions during his NASCAR career. The most recent event happened during the season-finale Chase for the Sprint Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. He used an obscene gesture while in his car and was caught on video blowing up at ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch, who requested an interview with him following the race.
The video was posted on YouTube and both Penske Racing and Shell/Pennzoil, the team's sponsor, voiced their disappointment in the driver. NASCAR also fined Busch $50,000 last week for the incident.
Busch said in an interview at last week's NASCAR awards show in Las Vegas that he has been working with a psychologist for two months.
"I need to be a better person on the radio, to the team, as a leader," Busch said. "It's personal issues, of course, and working with a sports psychologist, I've gotten obviously a small grasp, but there's obviously bigger things that I need to accomplish and things can't happen overnight."
Penske spokesman Jonathan Gibson referred questions by The Charlotte Observer to a previous statement and said it would have no further comment at this time.
Busch was fired by Roush Fenway Racing in November 2005, one season after winning the Sprint Cup title. The firing came after he was cited for criminal and reckless driving in Avondale, Ariz., in what police described as an alcohol-related incident. He sat out the final two races of the 2005 season and later signed a contract to drive with Penske Racing.
Busch has won 10 races with Penske and finished 11th in the points standings this season. His highest finish was fourth in 2009.
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