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Category: Kurt Busch

NASCAR's Kurt Busch signs with Phoenix Racing

Kurt

Former champion Kurt Busch said Thursday he plans to drive for the small team of Phoenix Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series next year.

Busch, 33, was seeking a new ride because he parted ways with Penske Racing after a tumultuous 2011 season. Penske this week said A.J. Allmendinger would replace Busch in the No. 22 Penske Dodge.

Phoenix Racing, owned by James Finch, fields the No. 51 Chevrolet that mostly was driven by 22-year-old Landon Cassill this year. The team has one Sprint Cup victory to its credit, at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama in 2009 with Brad Keselowski at the wheel. Keselowski now drives for Penske as well.

"I'm very happy to join Phoenix Racing and, after entertaining a lot of quality offers, there's no better place for me," said Busch, who won the Cup title in 2004, in a statement. Finch said "with Kurt Busch as our driver, we have a shot to win every week."

Busch has 24 Cup victories in his career, including two this last season. He also qualified for NASCAR's Chase for the Cup title playoff this year and finished 11th in the standings.

But the end of his season was marred when Busch was caught on camera making several profanity-laced comments as he waited impatiently for a live interview with an ESPN pit reporter at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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--Jim Peltz

Photo: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch during practice Oct. 21 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

NASCAR's A.J. Allmendinger moves to Penske Racing

Penske Racing said Wednesday it has hired driver A.J. Allmendinger to take over its No. 22 Dodge in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season next year.

AllmendingerAllmendinger succeeds former Cup champion Kurt Busch, who parted ways with Penske earlier this month.

A native of Los Gatos, Calif., Allmendinger is a former open-wheel racer who migrated to stock-car racing in 2007. He spent the last three years with Richard Petty Motorsports.

Allmendinger has yet to win a Cup race, but he finished this year with 10 top-10 finishes and was 15th in the Cup championship standings.

"A.J. is a very talented and motivated driver and we believe he will be a terrific fit with our team," team owner Roger Penske said in a statement.

Allmendinger, 30, said "I have always admired Roger Penske and the way his teams compete and win in every series where they race."

The announcement was the second big change to Richard Petty Motorsports in as many days. On Tuesday, electronics retailer Best Buy — which had sponsored Allmendinger's car last year — said it was shifting its sponsorshipto Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards at Roush Fenway Racing.

— Jim Peltz

Photo: NASCAR driver A.J. Allmendinger looks on during qualifying Nov. 12 at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz. Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt / Getty Images

For NASCAR's Kurt Busch, a dearth of options

Kurt

Having split with Penske Racing, NASCAR driver Kurt Busch says he's searching for a way to "put the fun back into racing for me," seeing a sports psychologist and trying to "grow as a person and be a better driver."

But if Busch plans to compete again next year in the Sprint Cup Series, the former Cup champion also needs to find fast race cars, and that could be a challenge.

Among the Cup series' premier teams, they either don't appear to have room for another driver or would be unlikely to seek Busch's services.

Hendrick Motorsports already has four drivers, the NASCAR maximum. Roush Fenway Racing, where Busch left on sour terms before joining Penske in 2006, and Richard Childress Racing are cutting back to three cars from four next year and have their drivers set.

Joe Gibbs Racing? That's home to Busch's younger brother Kyle, who's already given Gibbs and its sponsors all the controversy they need, thank you.

Continue reading »

NASCAR champ Tony Stewart names Steve Addington as crew chief

NASCAR champion Tony Stewart hired Steve Addington as crew chief for his No. 14 Chevrolet for next year
The musical chairs among NASCAR Sprint Cup crew chiefs continued Monday as newly crowned champion Tony Stewart hired Steve Addington as crew chief for his No. 14 Chevrolet for next year.

Addington, 47, had been Kurt Busch's crew chief but left after a tumultuous season-ending race a week ago in which the Penkse Racing driver launched into a profanity-laced outburst in the garage at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway.

NASCAR later levied a $50,000 fine on Busch for his actions.

"I know Steve well and I know how he goes about setting up a racecar," Stewart said in a statement. "He balances the technical part of our sport with the real-world experiences we get at the track, and that will allow for a smooth transition as we prepare to defend our title in 2012."

Addington has 16 career Cup wins, including two with Busch this year. Addington was also a onetime crew chief for Kyle Busch, Kurt's younger brother, at Joe Gibbs Racing and helped him win eight races in 2008 and 12 victories overall.

At Stewart-Haas Racing, Addington replaces Darian Grubb, a former Hendrick Motorsports engineer who became Stewart's crew chief in 2009 when Stewart became co-owner of his race team.

Grubb said he was told in October that he would not return to Stewart-Haas. Stewart struggled badly at times during the season but then won five of the 10 races in NASCAR's Chase for the Cup playoff and captured his third Cup championship.

"He's a great person and I know he'll continue to be successful in this sport," Stewart said of Grubb.

Kevin Harvick, who finished third in the standings behind Stewart and Carl Edwards, also recently announced that he would have a new crew chief in 2012, with Shane Wilson taking over the No. 29 Chevrolet for Gil Martin at Richard Childress Racing.

-- Jim Peltz

Photo: NASCAR crew chief Steve Addington at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on Oct. 31. Credit: Jared C. Tilton / Getty Images

NASCAR's Kurt Busch apologizes for outburst, loses crew chief

Busch

It has been a ragged ending to the season for NASCAR's Busch brothers.

Two weeks after Kyle Busch was severely reprimanded for intentionally wrecking a rival driver, his older brother Kurt Busch and his Penske Racing team apologized Tuesday for Kurt's outburst in the garage Sunday at the Sprint Cup Series season finale.

After transmission trouble sidelined his Dodge early in the race at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, Kurt Busch made several profanity-laced remarks as he waited impatiently for a live interview with Dr. Jerry Punch, the veteran ESPN pit reporter.

"I let my emotions get the better of me," Busch, 33, said in a statement in which he apologized to Penske Racing, NASCAR, fans, media, sponsors "and in particular, Dr. Jerry Punch." Busch's main sponsor is Shell-Pennzoil.

Penske Racing also apologized and said Busch's actions were "inconsistent with the company's standards for behavior, respect for others and professionalism."

Busch also had angry outbursts on his team radio at races earlier in the season, some directed at crew chief Steve Addington, and Penske Racing confirmed Tuesday that Addington had left the company.

Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, won two races with Addington this year but finished 11th among the 12 drivers in this year's Chase for the Cup title playoff.

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--Jim Peltz

Photo: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch, left, and crew chief Steve Addington at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C., last May 28. Credit: Bob Leverone/Associated Press

NASCAR's Chase leads weekend's motor racing

A bit of controversy hangs over the start of NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup, the 10-race championship playoff that opens Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.

Jimmie Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick, with four wins apiece in the Sprint Cup Series so far this season, lead the 12 drivers in the Chase with 2,012 points each. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon follows with 2,009.

Harvick won last week’s race in Richmond, Va., after his Richard Childress Racing teammate Paul Menard spun out late in the race to bring out a caution flag. Harvick then beat Gordon off pit road and held off Gordon for the victory.

Gordon later said the timing of Menard’s spinout was “a little fishy,” and NASCAR President Mike Helton said the sanctioning body would look into it.

But team owner Richard Childress said in a statement Friday “there were no team orders” given to Menard to spin to help Harvick's cause and that Menard “wouldn’t have spun out on purpose even if he had been asked.”

Jimmie Johnson, aiming for a record sixth consecutive title, also is back in the Chase along with 2004 champion Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch’s older brother.

Johnson and Kurt Busch have had a running feud in recent weeks, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. -- another Chase contender and teammate of Johnson's at Hendrick Motorsports-- was asked Friday if he was curious about how the Johnson-Busch spat might play out this weekend.

“It bores the [expletive] out of me, to be honest,” Earnhardt said. “I’ve got my own damn problems to worry about.”

The Izod IndyCar Series, meanwhile, is racing Sunday for the final time at the Twin Ring Motegi track in Japan, where Danica Patrick won her only IndyCar event in 2008. Patrick is moving to NASCAR stock-car racing next year.

With three races left in the season, the IndyCar championship is coming down to a battle between current point leader Dario Franchitti, who is shooting for his third consecutive championship and fourth overall, and Team Penske’s Will Power, who is only five points behind Franchitti and seeking his first title.

In drag racing, the six-race title playoff in the National Hot Rod Assn.’s Full Throttle Series opens this weekend with the O’Reilly Auto Parts Nationals in Charlotte, N.C.

Del Worsham currently leads the NHRA’s top-fuel class by 30 points over Antron Brown, and Mike Neff leads the funny car division by 30 points over Jack Beckman. The series finale is Nov. 10-13 at Auto Club Raceway in Pomona.

And on Saturday night, late-model stock cars make their last appearance of the season as part of a multi-race lineup at the half-mile Toyota Speedway at Irwindale. Brandon Davis of Huntington Beach currently leads the point standings in that series.

The Formula One series is off this weekend ahead of the Singapore Grand Prix on Sept. 25.

--Jim Peltz

Photo: NASCAR drivers Jimmie Johnson, left, and Jeff Gordon take in the sights of Chicago ahead of Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway that opens NASCAR's Chase title playoff. Credit: David Banks/Getty Images

 

Kurt Busch wins at Sonoma for first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory of year

Tony

Kurt Busch was dominant Sunday in winning the NASCAR race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., his first Sprint Cup Series win of the season.

Busch and his No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge were followed by second place Jeff Gordon, who holds a record five wins at the 10-turn, 1.99-mile Infineon track.

"Unbelievable day," Busch said. "Once we got into the groove with this car it seemed to get better."

Carl Edwards finished third, Clint Bowyer fourth and Marcos Ambrose was fifth. Joey Logano, who started on the pole, finished sixth.

Tony Stewart and Brian Vickers were involved in the latest chapter of  NASCAR's "boys, have at it" policy that left both of their cars heavily damaged.

On lap 37, Stewart pushed Vickers into a spin that triggered a multi-car crash that heavily damaged Vickers' Toyota. Later, with 23 laps left, Vickers paid him back by turning Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet, sending Stewart crashing into the tire barriers next to the outside wall.

Vickers finished 36th and Stewart was 39th.

Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. was finished before the race was half over when his No. 88 Chevrolet was one of several cars involved in a wreck on lap 37. The crash punched a hole in the radiator of Earnhardt's car that damaged the engine. He finished 41st.

--Jim Peltz in Sonoma, Calif.

Photo: Personnel work to free Tony Stewart's car from the tires in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Credit: Ben Margot/Associated Press 

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