According to the Charlotte Observer, Kurt Busch has been fired from Penske racing.
Busch, who won the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, has been under an intense microscope throughout his career, let alone the 2011 season.
A meltdown after the season finale with respected ESPN pit reporter, Dr. Jerry Punch, has appeared to be the last straw for the Las Vegas native.
It’s not the first time Busch has found himself released from a “prime” seat in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Roush Racing released Busch before the November race at Phoenix International Raceway after Busch’s run-in with local Arizona law enforcement.
The news comes after Busch’s crew chief, Steve Addington, left his seat atop the pit box for Busch to take over the crew chief role for Tony Stewart and his championship winning No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team.
During NASCAR’s “Champions Week” in Las Vegas, Busch told reporters that he had recently began seeing a sports physiologist in order to help with his anger issues that have seemed to cost him his job. Busch also acknowledged that primary sponsor, Shell/Pennzoil, were “agitated” by his actions in Homestead, but didn’t think his job at Penske Racing was in serious jeopardy.
The departure couldn’t come at a worse time for Busch. With so few “qualify” rides available in all of NASCAR, it’s hard to say where the former champion will end up when “the music stops spinning”.
But, with misfortune comes possible fortune for many drivers looking to secure a ride for 2012. Brian Vickers, David Ragan and David Reutimann are among the drivers searching for a ride to land in for the 2012 season. Former IRL champion, and Penske Racing NASCAR Nationwide Series driver, Sam Hornish Jr. also can not be ruled out of the equation for filling the now vacated No. 22 seat.
NASCAR fans have shown little-to-no sympathy for Busch over the years. Alienated by his “brash and bold” attitude, even with his numerous apologies.
An official announcement from Penske Racing is expected to be made on Monday, December 4.