For a driver whose Sprint Cup journey has had its share of turbulence, Kurt Busch seems to be settling into a comfortable mid-career niche.
Busch has signed a new contract with Penske Racing which should keep him with that organization for the next five years and possibly through the rest of his driving career. Such stability could not have been predicted in Busch’s early years, when he engaged in a prolonged feud with Jimmy Spencer, battled other drivers both on and off the track and had feuds with team members and officials at his former employer, Roush Fenway Racing.
Sponsorship negotiations for next season have produced major changes for Busch, who will move within the Penske organization from the No. 2 Dodge to the No. 22 car. The No. 22 will be sponsored by Shell/Pennzoil, which is moving over from Richard Childress Racing. Brad Keselowski will move from the 22 to the 2.
The new sponsorship deal provided an opportunity to solidify his relationship with the Penske team over the long haul, Busch said.
“It definitely crossed my mind to work with Roger on a lifetime-type deal,” he said. “This program presented itself, and it happened at such a quick timeframe that it didn’t allow time to develop any further. It was almost like, ‘Hey, you going with me?’
“It was a situation that I felt very comfortable with. I now know Roger from working with him the last five years. I definitely look to have my career end here at Penske Racing. Hopefully, that’s 10 to 15 years down the road.
“Being only 31 years old, there’s still so much potential, blue sky and so much fun that we can have together.”
Busch said he has learned over the years that his role in the sport is about much more than the driving.
“When I first came in, I was just so focused on driving the car that I didn’t look at anything else,” he said. “When business pops up, you learn to adapt and you try to grow within yourself and grow in the walls that you’re given. To have the opportunity to team up with Roger on this deal was something that I couldn’t pass up.”
Mike Hembree is NASCAR Editor for SPEEDtv.com and has been covering motorsports for 28 years. He has written several books on NASCAR, including "NASCAR: The Definitive History of America's Sport" and "Then Tony Said To Junior: The Best NASCAR Stories Ever Told". He is a six-time winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Writer of the Year Award.
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