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


”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


”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