This time Penske Racing has sent him packing without a ride for 2012 due, in part, to his impatient, expletive-laden tirade against ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch. Kurt blew up at Dr. Punch while the two were waiting in the garage area for an interview during the final Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Kurt was out of the race with mechanical troubles and clearly was not interested in giving an interview.
Kurt probably would have been able to get away with it except that the incident was captured by a race fan and posted on YouTube for the world to see and appreciate. (Warning: the video contains strong language)
In case you think Penske Racing overreacted take a few minutes while you're on YouTube to peruse some of the other classic Kurt Busch moments which have been caught on tape in recent years. Especially his childish reaction to AP reporter Jenna Fryer after she asks a question he doesn't like or any of the other dozens of profanity-laced tirades aimed at NASCAR, the Penske Racing team or any number of drivers that Kurt believes have crossed him in some way.
It doesn't take long to get a picture of Kurt as a driver with some anger management issues and Penske Racing's reaction becomes a bit more understandable. This was far from an isolated incident.
A few minutes watching Kurt Busch videos on YouTube makes Jimmy Spencer's 2003 actions a great deal more understandable.
Who Will Get The #22 Penske Dodge?
This leaves the NASCAR world with two very interesting questions. Since all of the top rides and top drivers that were likely to change hands in 2012 have already been claimed who gets the sweet Penkse Racing #22 Shell-Pennzoil ride next year? Also, what happens to Kurt Busch?
According to Jayski the list of drivers who currently are without an announced ride for 2012 includes:
- David Gilliland
- Travis Kvapil
- David Ragan
- David Reutimann
- Brian Vickers
- J.J. Yeley
David Ragan is coming off a 2011 season where he finally made his way to Victory Lane for the first time in his Sprint Cup career. Ragan was released by Roush Fenway Racing to pursue other opportunities after primary sponsor UPS decided not to renew. I believe that David Ragan is the top candidate for the Penske Racing seat.
David Reutimann has two NASCAR Sprint Cup victories to his credit. Reutimann won a rain shortened race at Charlotte in 2009 and backed that up with a convincing 2010 Chicagoland win. Reutimann has never had top-tier equipment. I'd love to see what he can do with an A-list team.
Brian Vickers is the third member of that list with a reasonable shot at the #22 seat. Vickers also has two career victories in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. One was an unpopular 2006 Talladega score where Vickers accidentally spun his Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson while battling for the win. The second was a 2009 Michigan fuel mileage win. I'd consider Vickers a longshot for the seat over the two Davids but still a driver who can get the job done.
Kurt Busch's 2012 Plans?
Kurt Busch's options for next season are going to be slim. Kurt is a talented driver. Very few would argue that. Kurt has 24 Sprint Cup wins dating back to 2002 and Kurt was the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. It is hard to imagine that Kurt won't be able to land a ride. The question is, can Kurt land a competitive ride.
As far as I know there are no quality rides available at this time and very few sponsors hanging around looking to invest in a brand new team. Given Kurt's checkered history off the track I don't see Rick Hendrick, Richard Childress or any of the premier teams lining up to take on the 2004 Champ.
This answer is truly a mystery.