Opinion: What’s Next for Busch?

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch and Penske Racing have “mutually agreed” to part ways. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Kurt Busch says he has several options for 2012 but remaining in the Sprint Cup Series will be a difficult task.

After Monday’s announcement that Busch and Penske Racing had “mutually agreed” to part ways, the former series champion made several media appearances to reiterate he had plenty to choose from in his racing future.

“I need to put the fun back into racing for me,” Busch told the Associated Press. “I want to be a better driver and a better person. Today is the day that begins. I take a deep breath, I smile and I move forward from here.”

But the opportunities to remain at NASCAR’s highest level appear to be few and far between, especially for Busch to find a ride on par with the one he held at Penske Racing.

None of the powerhouse organizations have openings with teams like Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing all at capacity to field sponsored teams.

With RCR and Roush Fenway Racing forced to contract from four to three entries in 2012 due to sponsorship issues, finding corporate backing for even the most successful of teams or drivers has been a difficult quest.

Despite his obvious talent and a resume that includes 24 Sprint Cup wins and the 2004 championship, Busch will more than likely need to settle for a second or third-level landing spot if he intends to remain in NASCAR’s premier division.

The prospects don’t get any easier in the Nationwide or Camping World Truck Series. The same sponsorship woes have impacted both circuits and available seats with adequate funding are not by any means plentiful.

There is the intriguing scenario of Busch teaming up with younger brother Kyle and his Kyle Busch Motorsports operation, which plans to field entries in both the Nationwide and Truck series next year. The pairing of the two controversial brothers on one team would be ripe for all kinds of story lines.

However, there are questions about where KBM stands at this point going forward and there is more than some speculation that Kyle’s issues from last year’s incident with Ron Hornaday at Texas may impact his participation in events outside the Sprint Cup Series.

Should Joe Gibbs Racing and sponsor Mars/M&M’s decide to curtail Kyle’s involvement behind the wheel of anything but the No. 18 Sprint Cup ride, the door could open for Kurt to slide in if sponsors already signed up for the programs agree.

Busch mentioned several times during his many interviews on Monday about how much he enjoyed racing an NHRA Pro Stock as well as competing in the Frank Kimmel Street Stock Series last year. While it’s hard to imagine Busch going from a high profile Sprint Cup team to a full-fledged street stock driver the following season, there is the possibility he could pursue a drag racing career.

Then there’s the possibility that Busch just takes a year off and addresses his emotional issues while taking a step back in his career. He admitted to seeking the professional help of a sports psychologist last week to reporters during “Champion’s Week” activities in Las Vegas. Busch may decide his best course of action is to concentrate on exercising those demons before finding another spot behind the wheel.

One things is for sure and that’s Kurt Busch’s days driving the Shell/Pennzoil Dodge are over. Where he lands next is anyone’s guess, including Busch’s.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Kurt Busch

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