Perhaps Kurt Busch has found himself a ride after all.
Busch and Phoenix Racing have reached a handshake agreement for Busch to drive Phoenix's No. 51 Chevrolet in 2012. While Phoenix is obviously a much smaller organization than Penske Racing, Busch's prior employer, this could end up being an ideal situation. Phoenix owner James Finch was, naturally, enthusiastic about having a championship driver drop in his lap:
"All we want to do is win," Finch said in a statement. "Winning is why I've been in racing for as long as I have, but NASCAR is a very competitive sport, and winning — especially at the Sprint Cup level — is hard. But now with Kurt Busch as our driver, we have a shot to win every week. He's a past champion and he's proven he can win everywhere. Our sponsors are looking forward to Kurt representing their brands."
Phoenix Racing has an alignment with Hendrick Motorsports. In 191 starts, Phoenix has three top fives and one win, that one being a name familiar to Busch: Brad Keselowski, who won at Talladega in 2009. (You remember, the Carl Edwards-in-the-fence race.) Most recently, Landon Cassill drove for Phoenix this year and finished 30th in the standings. Nick Harrison will continue to serve as the 51's crew chief.
"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. "We're going to run the full schedule together, and we're going to have fun doing it.
"It's going to be old-school racing, where we show up, race hard and go for the win. And if we don't win, we'll go back to the shop, work hard and do it all over again next week. That's the way we all started racing, and it's great to get back to that."
Still in play: the 43 of Richard Petty Motorsports. Will this mean David Ragan now has a ride? Or David Reutimann, Brian Vickers or Cassill? Plenty yet to be decided, but the biggest pieces for 2012 are now in place.
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