Busch gets new ride with Phoenix Racing

Kurt Busch has a new ride.

Busch, who became one of NASCAR’s most polarizing figures this
past season, will return to the Sprint Cup series in 2012 to drive
the No. 51 car for Phoenix Racing and owner James Finch.

Busch told The Associated Press that the deal was finalized late
Wednesday night over a few cold Miller Lites in an establishment
located ”in the shadows of Charlotte Motor Speedway.”

”This is a fantastic opportunity to have fun at the cup level
and bring this Phoenix Racing team up from where it is,” Busch
said. ”I’m really looking forward to it. I really think this is
going to be a lot of fun.”

Busch isn’t used to working with smaller teams.

He previously drove Fords for Jack Roush and Dodges for Penske,
will be behind the wheel of a Chevrolet for Finch, who has been a
race team owner since 1990.

Busch parted ways with Penske Racing following a tumultuous
season in 2011 in which he clashed with two reporters in Richmond
and then was fined $50,000 by NASCAR for profanities directed at
ESPN’s Jerry Punch and using a hand gesture at the season’s final
race Nov. 20 in Homestead, Fla.

He said he’s looking forward to getting back to his roots in
some ways, saying this will be a lot like his days on the Southwest
Tour.

”This is a small group of guys with a lot of big hearts,”
Busch said. ”They have to because they know they have to face the
big programs. This is going to be an opportunity to have a lot of
fun with James Finch, who’s great. And they have the Hendrick
equipment which helps, too.”

A.J. Allmendinger has taken over for Busch in the No. 22 Dodge
at Penske.

Busch has won 24 Sprint Cup races, as well as the 2010 NASCAR
Sprint All-Star Race.

Finch is hoping Busch will bring more wins to his team, saying
in a release that ”all we want to do is win.”

”With Kurt we have a shot every week,” Finch said. ”He’s a
past champion and he’s proven he can win everywhere. Our sponsors
are looking forward to Kurt representing their brands. We have
excellent equipment and a hard-working group of guys who want that
trophy at the end of every race. Kurt’s the guy who can deliver it
to them.”

Finch’s No. 51 car finished 30th in points last year with Landon
Cassill driving.

Finch’s only Sprint Cup victory came in the April 2009 race at
Talladega Superspeedway when he employed Brad Keselowski as his
driver.

”It’s going to be old-school racing, where we show up, race
hard and go for the win,” Busch said in his release. ”And if we
don’t win, we’ll go back to the shop, work hard and do it all over
again next week. That’s the way we all started racing, and it’s
great to get back to that.”

In the past, Finch has criticized Busch’s behavior.

”He needs to simmer down a while,” Finch once told ESPN.
”There are a lot of people that don’t like Kurt. He’s never done
anything to me personally. He just needs to look in the mirror and
see what the problem is.”

Now they’ll get to work together.

”This is chance to look at life and have fun with it,” Busch
said.

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