Busch, Penske Part Ways

Kurt Busch

Despite published reports to the contrary, Penske Racing says Kurt Busch's departure was by mutual agreement. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Updated 10:38 a.m. (EST), Monday, December 5, 2011

It’s official. Kurt Busch is departing Penske Racing.

The team announced Monday morning that it has reached a mutual agreement with Busch to end its driver/race team relationship, effective immediately.

Sunday night, The Charlotte Observer reported that Busch had been fired from the team, citing sourced who confirmed to the paper that team owner Roger Penske has arrived at the decision to release Busch from his contract in the aftermath of his incident at Homestead-Miami Speedway with ESPN reporter Dr. Jerry Punch.

The incident was caught on video that quickly went viral, and became widely viewed on You Tube and other internet sites, leading NASCAR to fine Busch $50,000.

Penske Racing officials released a statement of apology in the day following the incident and Busch also apologized for his behavior.

When asked about the altercation during last week's "Champion's Week" activities in Las Vegas, Busch said he recognized his emotional issues and was seeking professional help.

“I’m actually working with a sports psychologist to try to help me work through that,” he said.

“It started the last two months or so. It’s personal issues and working with a sports psychologist, I’ve gotten a small grasp, but there’s obviously bigger things that I have to accomplish and things can’t happen overnight.”

In a prepared statement, Penske Racing said it will evaluate its options in selecting a new driver for the No. 22 Sprint Cup Series car in the future. No timetable has been made public for making that selection.

"I appreciate the victories that Kurt has brought Penske Racing and our sponsors over the past six years," said team owner Roger Penske. "While I am disappointed that Kurt will not be racing for our team in the future, both Kurt and I felt that separating at this time was best for all parties, including our team and sponsors. I wish Kurt the best in his future racing endeavors."

Busch, meanwhile, is now free to explore opportunities with another race team for the 2012 season and beyond.

"I am grateful to Penske Racing for six very productive years," said Busch. "Together we won a lot of races -16 in all. Leaving a great organization and a lucrative contract is not easy, but it's an important step for me and allows me to take a deep breath to work on things that can make me a better driver and a better person. I want to personally thank Roger Penske for the opportunity that he has given me."

The mutual agreement marks the second major departure from the No. 22 Penske team within the past week. Crew chief Steve Addington left the team last week to take over crew chief duties for Tony Stewart and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 14 entry.

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