HAMPTON, GA — Kurt Busch isn’t sure where he’ll end up next year. The veteran driver is a free agent at seasons end and while he’s coveted by the potentially expanding 23XI Racing team, one team that he won’t be back with is Chip Ganassi Racing.
His current employer is closing up shop at seasons end as they announced a couple of weeks ago that they’ve sold everything to Trackhouse Racing. While Busch is certainly in consideration to drive their second car and to remain in place in the same shop but having a different name sign his checks, he knows for certain that he’d like to remain in the Cup Series still for 2022 too.
“I’ll tell you, it seems to be an owners’ market right now, but for me I’m doing all I can with the Next-Gen car on the horizon. I’m a racer, and I’ll be a racer through and through,” Busch said following his win in Sunday’s Quaker State 400 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
“I’ve been around for quite a few different styles of cars, a few different racing divisions with INDYCAR and NHRA, but to drive this Next-Gen car, it’s important to me, and I’m going to try to make it work.”
Busch, bested his little brother Kyle Busch after leading a race-high 144 of 260 laps on a warm Sunday afternoon in Georgia. He says that this win shows that he can still win at any age at any time as he can offer someone a wealth of experience to help them if they’d be interested in bringing the Las Vegas native into their organization.
This was the eighth straight year that he’s won at least one race in NASCAR’s premiere series as well as winning at least once in all but three full time seasons in the sport. He’s taken Roush Fenway Racing, Team Penske, Stewart-Haas and Chip Ganassi Racing all to victory lane in his 21 years as a full time driver in Cup. The only two teams that he didn’t win with was Furniture Row Racing and Phoenix Racing. Both were small teams and not in a position to win at the time he drove for them.
Still, Busch was the reason FRR started their true ascension in the sport as he’s been a big reason as to why the teams that he’s drove for has been weekly contenders. In true Busch fashion, he credits the teams around him for his success. He points to his current team and their resolve over the last several weeks to how they are a championship caliber team to be messed with.
“It takes a team, though, and this team with the way our back was against the wall probably about 10 weeks ago, we were 100 points below the cut line, and I rallied everybody the best that I could,” he said.
“I even pulled in a two-star general to come in and speak to my 1 car guys. We put together this spirited effort of, we have to be as smart as we can with points. We have to race for points each week. We might be scraping to try to get 11th at the end, but as long as we bank the Stage 1 and Stage 2 points, we’re going to claw our way back into this.”
Busch went from 83 points down to 25 points up entering Sunday’s race. He left the state of Florida to start the year with two top eight finishes in three races. In the 12 race stretch after, he accumulated just 20 stage points and no finish better than 13th.
That’s when he rallied the troops and they’ve been on a terror ever since with five top eight finishes in six tries including 62 stage points.
With the win to put the icing on the cake and stamp his name into the postseason, he says this is what it’s going to take to make another deep playoff run like they did last year in advancing all the way to the Round of 8.
“That’s the same mentality that we need to take to finish this regular season, and it’s what we need to do in the playoffs,” said Busch. “So I couldn’t be more proud of Matt McCall and all these guys at Ganassi, especially with the news of things changing, and this is where you just put the blinders on and you try to — I try to coach them through this the best that I can to be my best leader that I can be.
“These are those moments in your career where you look back on and you go, I gave it everything I had, and it started right after Memorial Day, June 1st, is the way that we’ve been running.”