NASCAR

Kurt Busch reaches deal for 2012 ride

Image: NASCAR driver Kurt Busch (© Kelley L. Cox/USA TODAY Sports)
Kurt Busch will drive for Phoenix Racing in 2012.
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Lee Spencer

Lee Spencer is the Senior NASCAR Writer for FOXSports.com. She has provided award-winning coverage of auto racing over the last 15 years. Spencer has lent her expertise to both television and radio and is a regular contributor to SiriusXM Radio and the Performance Racing Network. Follow her on Twitter.

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Kurt Busch will drive the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing in 2012.

Busch put the handshake deal together with team owner James Finch on Wednesday night.

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“I went to the shop, and on the Christmas tree was a sign that read, ‘All we want from Santa is a winning driver,' ” Finch said. “We will be at the Daytona test next month and start with the (Budweiser) Shootout.”

The decision comes just weeks after Busch left Penske Racing in a mutual parting. Upon his departure, Busch said he “wanted racing to be fun again.”

If Busch, 33, was looking to combine “fun” with racing, no owner can deliver on that promise better than Finch. Couple that with the benefit of Hendrick Motorsports cars and engines, and Busch could be the driver who puts Phoenix Racing on the map.

"2012 is going to be a great year for me. To work on this project personally, team up with Finch and have fun doing it and just getting back to old-school racing – I’m an old-school kind of guy," Busch said. "We have a full year ahead of us but also meanwhile we’re going to start working on 2013 come the summer months.

"I feel like working with the high profile teams I have and now heading to Finch with this opportunity, I’m going to get a great perspective and learn more about this sport than I ever knew before."

The 2004 Sprint Cup champion has 24 wins, including two in each of the past three years, and has qualified for six Chase for the Sprint Cups. Busch has won a race in each of the past 10 seasons.

Said Finch: “I told Kurt, ‘I won’t fire you, and you won’t quit. We’ll do whatever it takes — roll in the mud if we have to to win. I’ve worked construction all my life just so I could race and have a good time. I’ve worked with iron workers, I worked with construction workers, so working with a driver is not going to be a problem.

“As I said earlier, all we want to do is win”.

Finch has been active in Sprint Cup racing since 1990. Phoenix Racing has one victory and three top fives in 191 starts with multiple drivers. The lone win came in April 2009 at Talladega Superspeedway with Brad Keselowski behind the wheel. Nick Harrison will continue to serve as crew chief.

Landon Cassill most recently piloted the No. 51 for Finch last season. Finch finished 30th in owner points.

Busch finished 11th in the Sprint Cup standings this year. He closed on a sour note when he made an obscene hand gesture while heading to the garage because of mechanical problems. As his car was being repaired, Busch berated a television reporter, drawing a $50,000 fine.

Tagged: Kurt Busch

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