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Kurt Busch and Penske Racing part ways

December 5, 2011 |  9:18 am

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Kurt Busch will not return to drive Penske Racing's No. 22 Dodge next season. The move, which is being called a mutual decision, was announced Monday, just a little over a week after Busch was fined $50,000 for his latest off-track incident.

"I appreciate the victories that Kurt has brought Penske Racing and our sponsors over the past six years," Roger Penske said in a statement. "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 best for all parties, including our team and sponsors. I wish Kurt the best in his future racing endeavors."

Busch said in the statement: "I am 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's an important step for me and allows me to take a deep breath to work on things that can make me a better driver and a better person. I want to personally thank Roger Penske for the opportunity that he has given me."

During the Sprint Cup series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Busch was caught on video using an obscene gesture and launching into a profanity-laced tirade toward ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch. The incident was posted on YouTube.

Busch admitted last week that he's seeing a sports psychologist to address “personal issues.”

This is the second time an off-track issue appears to have cost Busch his job. He was fired by Roush Fenway Racing in November 2005, less than a year after winning the Cup series championship, after being cited for criminal recklessness in Avondale, Ariz.

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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Kurt Busch on the track. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / US Presswire

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