- Retiring NASCAR Cup champion Kurt Busch gained 14 races with Jack Roush, 10 with Roger Penske, 6 with Stewart-Haas, 3 with Chip Ganassi, and 1 with 23XI.
- He gained at the very least annually for 19 seasons, even whereas lacking two races when Roush fired him in 2005 and three extra when NASCAR suspended him in 2015.
- He gained at the very least one race in 10 consecutive seasons, was winless in 2011 and 2012, then gained at the very least annually for his final 9 seasons.
Kurt Busch introduced monumental expertise and potential to NASCAR’s higher ranges when he arrived in 2000. However at 21, he additionally introduced a temperamental, petulant, boastful and combative angle that always appeared to threaten his profession at virtually any second.
Over time, although, the expertise and potential gained out. Certainly, the hot-head from Las Vegas grew right into a revered and admired competitor, headed for the NASCAR Corridor of Fame. Throughout his latest retirement announcement in Daytona Seashore, the 45-year-old sounded extra like a mature and considerate elder statesman than what we endured early in his 23-year profession.
“Racing at NASCAR’s highest degree requires each final little bit of focus, coronary heart, stamina and willpower,” he mentioned. “Proper now, I can’t give what’s required to compete at that degree, so I’m formally saying my retirement. As I transition out of the motive force’s seat, I can’t assist however really feel extremely blessed to have spent the period of time as I did as a driver. I may have by no means imagined it rising up as a blue-collar child in Las Vegas.”
Early-on, after nice success on quick tracks within the West, Busch reached the Craftsman Truck Sequence, the place he made a right away impression. He completed second in his first CTS race, at Daytona Seashore in February of 2000. He gained 4 poles and 4 races that yr with Roush Racing, completed second to factors champion Greg Biffle, and was Rookie of the 12 months.
Expertise and potential? To this point, little doubt about it.
He did a number of Cup Sequence races with Roush that very same yr, then ran all however one Cup race (DNQ at Atlanta) in 2001. He hit his stride in 2002, successful 4 Cup races ending third in factors. He gained 4 races in 2003 and 4 extra in 2004, the yr he gained the Cup Sequence title with Roush and crew chief Jimmy Fennig.
These 14 Cup victories—and, we will assume, Roush’s impatience along with his driver’s angle—drew the eye of staff proprietor Roger Penske. The Captain recruited Busch for the 2006-2011 seasons, betting on his expertise and potential to hold the day. Busch responded with 14 victories in six seasons, however had solely two top-10 seasons and by no means severely challenged for the championship.
All of the sudden, all that expertise and potential confronted an unsure future. What self-respecting proprietor would attain out after Busch was minimize unfastened by Roush and Penske? He was clearly able to successful races (24 victories and a championship), however some house owners noticed his on- and off-track angle as a legal responsibility. With few choices, Busch spent components of 2012 with unbiased house owners James Finch and Barney Visser earlier than going full-time with Visser for a good however winless 2013 season.
Former champion-turned-team-owner/driver Tony Stewart had seen Busch’s expertise and potential all alongside. He had raced in opposition to that expertise and potential typically sufficient; actually, Stewart may need seen a few of himself—the great, the unhealthy, the ugly—within the mercurial driver. So, he introduced Busch to Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014-2018 seasons, figuring out his new rent nonetheless had lots within the tank. S-HR was rewarded with three top-10 factors seasons and 6 victories, together with the 2017 Daytona 500.
Busch stayed put for 5 seasons earlier than leaving once more. Even late in his profession, into his 40’s, he stored successful. He gained annually throughout 2019-2021 with Chip Ganassi, then acquired his thirty fourth and remaining Cup Sequence victory at Kansas in the summertime of 2022 for the Denny Hamlin-Michael Jordan staff. Nearly precisely a yr later, he suffered the pinnacle harm at Pocono that successfully ended his profession and led to his retirement announcement.
At one level he anticipated to hitch NASCAR’s unofficial “30/30 Membership.” He barely missed, getting “solely” 28 poles to go along with his 34 victories in 776 begins. He gained the 2004 Cup with Roush and had 9 different top-10 factors seasons. His 34 victories got here at 18 venues, a real mark of his expertise and potential. No shock: he counts the 2017 Daytona 500 as his best second.
In abstract: he gained 14 races with Roush, 10 with Penske, six with Stewart-Haas, three with Ganassi, and one with 23XI. He gained at the very least annually for 19 seasons, even whereas lacking two races when Roush fired him in 2005 and three extra when NASCAR suspended him in 2015. He gained at the very least one race in 10 consecutive seasons, was winless in 2011 and 2012, then gained at the very least annually for his final 9 seasons.
Lastly: nobody can ever say they noticed Kurt Busch canine it or mail it in. He all the time gave followers their cash’s value. “I’m a blue-collar employee who acquired a chance to do one thing actually cool. I’m 45 years previous. I’m pleased. I’m complacent. There’s nothing I look again on with remorse about having this chance on the prime degree of NASCAR.”
Expertise and potential? We must always all be so fortunate.
Unemployed after three years as an Military officer and Vietnam vet, Al Pearce shamelessly lied his method onto a small newspaper’s sports activities workers in Virginia in 1969. He inherited motorsports, an odd and unfamiliar beat which shortly turned an obsession.
In 53 years – 48 ongoing with Autoweek – there have been 1000’s of NASCAR, NHRA, IMSA, and APBA assignments on weekend tracks and main venues like Daytona Seashore, Indianapolis, LeMans, and Watkins Glen. The job – and accompanying advantages – has taken him to all 50 states and greater than a dozen nations.
He’s been lucky sufficient to draw curiosity from a number of publishers, thus his 13 motorsports-related books. He can change a tire on his Hyundai, however that’s about it.