Kurt Busch responds to release from Penske Racing UPDATE Kurt Busch, announced Monday as having mutually parted ways with Penske Racing, appeared on a special edition of SPEED Center Monday evening to explain his side of the story in the split.
Busch told co-hosts Adam Alexander and Steve Byrnes that despite numerous media reports that he had been fired by Penske Racing, he and the team mutually agreed to separate, effective immediately.
A transcript of the interview follows:
Byrnes: In Vegas, we were talking about things you were building on from seasons past. It seems like this would be a complete surprise to you. Is that correct?
Busch: “Well, no, the way we came to a mutual agreement, discussions were ongoing. Obviously out in Las Vegas to celebrate with Tony Stewart as our champion, there was discussions, and behind the scenes, things were developing.”
Alexander: So, given the fact this was a mutual agreement between you and Team Penske, what reason was given to you for the split once the announcement was made?
Busch: “Well, we both had our concerns and with the way that I’ve worked with Roger in the past, it was clear and it was cut, and I’m very thankful for the years that I spent over there. We won a lot of races together and what I did this past season, it wasn’t just one moment. There were a bunch of unprofessional moments, and what were the reasons behind those? And I began working with a sports psychologist and seeing some of those reasons and this now allows me for a fresh start. It’s time to put a little bit of fun back in racing for me.”
Byrnes: Kurt, in all reality, this couldn’t have come at a good time for a driver looking for a ride. There aren’t that many rides. I know it’s early in the game, but do you have any opportunities as we head into 2012?
Busch: “I’m considering all options and I’m encouraged by the quality phone calls today, texts and other ways. It’s important for me to work on my issues and the way that I want to be a better person and a better driver. As I reflect back on it, maybe I wasn’t the best fit for the Penske Racing team and at times, my frankness and intensity maybe just didn’t lay well. And I’m just a regular guy and I wear my heart on my sleeve and I think everybody knows that and that’s really some of the decision that went into everything back and forth.”
Alexander: You mentioned that you’ve hired a sports psychologist. How is that going and what other things are in your future to try to get this anger management under control?
Busch: “Well, it’s definitely working at it and taking the right steps to make sure that I find progress and achieve those small moments and recognize which ways I need to channel my emotion and my passion that have made me successful on track. It’s time to do that in other areas. I’m excited about the future. This is a fresh start for me. I’ve got a champion’s provisional that will guarantee me a spot in any race that I want to go to. There’s all types of other racing options, so it’s been a unique day. It’s going to be a unique week and month to figure out the next direction.”
Byrnes: You mentioned that you may not have been a good fit at Penske. Why did you come to that conclusion and why did you think that?
Busch: “I think the way that there was the formality of processes that maybe even Pat Tryson or Steve Addington didn’t necessarily smooth into, as well. It was tough to enjoy those. It’s still a great program. I can’t thank Roger enough. Those guys were so caring and they still are. That bridge is still there but it’s time for me to put fun back into my racing.”
Alexander: Have you thought at all about a Sprint Cup race going on in 2012 without you participating?
Busch: “No, I haven’t thought about that. There’s plenty of options. I’ve got unique situations here, there. I’ve also got my problems that I need to fix and prove that I’m moving forward. Lots of good things are brewing and I just want to say that I’m looking for a fresh start.”12/05/11 Kurt Busch issued the following statement today regarding the news that the 24-time NASCAR Sprint Cup winner and 2004 Cup champion had reached a mutual agreement with Penske Racing to leave the team:
“I am grateful to Penske Racing for six very productive years. Together we won a lot of races – 16 in all. I’m proud that we won on a variety of tracks and this past season reached Victory Lane four times. Another highlight was pushing my teammate to a Daytona 500 win. I also appreciate the lasting friendships I’ve made while working with our great sponsors through the years, including Miller Lite, Shell and Dodge.
“Coming to a mutual agreement to go our separate ways is a positive step for me. Over the Thanksgiving holiday I took time to reflect on what is most important to me and realized I need to find a way to put the fun back into racing. It’s time for a fresh start. Leaving a great organization and a lucrative contract is not easy, but it allows me to take a deep breath and work on things that can make me a better driver and a better person.
“I recognize the passion and emotion that have helped me succeed on the track need to be better channeled off the track. The past few months I began working with a sports psychologist to help me better deal with my emotions, especially following moments of frustration during competition.
“I never want to take for granted that it’s a privilege to earn a living as a NASCAR driver. As I begin this new chapter in my career, I’m excited about the future and committed to making the changes necessary for me to enjoy racing again, to compete for championships and to better represent NASCAR, my sponsors, my team and my fans.
“I want to personally thank Roger Penske for the opportunity he gave me and for his friendship, which will continue long into the future.”