Kurt Busch is now the former driver of the No. 22 Penske Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Dodge.
A statement on the Penske Racing website today said the driver and team had “reached a mutual agreement” to part ways.
“I appreciate the victories that Kurt has brought Penske Racing and our sponsors over the past six years,” said team owner Roger Penske. “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.”
“I am grateful to Penske Racing for six very productive years,” said Busch. “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.”
Busch had four years left on a five-year contract with Penske Racing.
A more accurate description of the “mutual agreement” might be that the volatile driver was fired after being fined $50, 000 for making an obscene gesture in sight of a TV camera and verbally abusing a reporter after Busch’s engine failed early in the NASCAR season finale at Homestead on Nov. 20. His verbal tirades also drove crew chief Steve Addington to seek employment elsewhere.
Busch signed on with Penske Racing in 2006, after winning the 2004 Sprint Cup championship with Roush Racing, a team which also got fed up with Busch’s temper. In the past six seasons the 33-year-old driver has won 16 races and made the Chase in four of the past five years.
Penske Racing has made no announcement of who might take over in the No. 22 car, and Kurt Busch has not mentioned any negotiations with any other teams.