Kurt Busch hopes to get a head start on the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup season by jumping in the No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet early.
The next chapter of the Busch saga could begin as early as in two weeks at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Aligning with the team before the end of the season would offer Busch an opportunity to acclimate to the group and its systems for the final six races of the season.
“He’s going to be out after Talladega,” said Phoenix Racing team owner James Finch, for whom Busch currently drives. “We’re going to go down there and try to win that race. We were up front for most of the spring race, and Brad (Keselowski) dumped us with three or four to go. We’ll be fine at Talladega.”
So who would fill the Phoenix Racing seat currently occupied by Busch?
Since Finch has operated for most of 2012 sans sponsorship, he’s looking at candidates “who have the potential” to bring financial support to the team for the final six race and possibly next year.
Finch has spoken to representation for AJ Allmendinger, who has been sidelined since July 7, when he was suspended for testing positive for amphetamine the week before at Kentucky Speedway.
Allmendinger has since completed NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program and was reinstated on Sept. 18. Allmendinger was 23rd in the points standings driving for Penske Racing when he was suspended. His best finish was second at Martinsville Speedway in the spring.
Regan Smith, who will be displaced in the No. 78 Chevrolet by Busch, could be part of an easy swap with the No. 51 Phoenix team. Smith, 29, is currently a career-high 23rd in the points standings.
Here’s a glimpse at his recent performance at the final six racetracks: Smith finished 17th at Charlotte in May, 24th at Kansas, 16th at Martinsville and 23rd at Texas in April, 20th at Phoenix in March and has an average result of 24th at Homestead.
Finch isn’t limited to considering Sprint Cup candidates. He also has been approached by the camps of Nationwide Series drivers James Buescher and Justin Allgaier.
Phoenix Racing is 27th in Sprint Cup owner points.