And the news keeps on coming.
James Finch announced today his intentions to hire Kurt Busch to drive full-time for Phoenix Racing in the no. 51 car. The ride was most recently piloted by Landon Cassill in 2011 where the team finished 30th in the owner’s standings with a best finish of 12th at Michigan in June.
It’s a perfect fit for both parties this late into silly season. Busch was lacking competitive options and Finch needed a capable driver to propel his team toward victory lane for the upcoming season. Much like championship winning Stewart Haas Racing, Finch receives his equipment from Hendrick Motorsports. All the Panama City-native needed was a wheelman.
And now he’s got it.
Busch has a history of getting maximum value out of a lacking race car. His entire tenure at Penske Racing is proof of that. While that organization won five times last year (seven if you count the Budweiser Shootout and Gatorade Duel at Daytona), Penske Racing has been a middle of the pack team for several seasons now. It could be argued that it was to Busch’s credit that he’s been able to win races every season and make the Chase for the Championship three of the five years that he was at Penske Racing.
Ultimately, this is a clean slate for Busch, who stated that he wasn’t having any fun with the mild-mannered Penske. James Finch is a throwback to a forgotten era in racing. His background is in construction and his blue collar background can be found within every inch of his organization.
Finch won’t put up with Busch’s shenanigans but he may be in a better position to tame the Vegas native than Penske and Jack Roush ever was. A shop of just 12 employees will actually work to the new relationship’s advantage. Kurt’s going to have to learn each employee’s name and face while intimately working alongside each of them.
That’s something that he’s never had to do before which could explain the ease in which he threw his former teammates under the bus at Penske and Roush. It’s really easy to call out your co-workers when you don’t have a relationship with them and Busch reportedly didn’t interact very much with anyone at Penske.
It’s almost a form of therapy for the introverted Kurt Busch.
This move has a lot of upside potential. Best case scenario has Busch drawing additional sponsorship, funding and support from Hendrick Motorsports. This could allow Phoenix Racing to compete for wins and perhaps a shot at the Chase for the Championship.
At a minimum, Busch repairs his image and becomes the top free agent of 2012 and that brings us full-circle. From one silly season to another, Kurt Busch may have the market cornered.