Kurt Busch was this week’s guest on the Dale Jr. Download after his third-place finish on Sunday.
During the podcast, Dale Jr. asked Kurt about his new approach to life over the last five years and how he managed to change himself. Gone were the radio outburst, The Outlaw nickname, and the press sheet ripping he did to Jenna Fryer. Kurt went into his upbringing, how he ended up in the Cup Series, ending up at Penske and ultimately getting canned from Penske.
That led Kurt into talking about who he reached out to when he was fired from Team Pense following the 2011 season. It’s always interesting to hear drivers talk about where they almost ended up. In Kurt’s case it interesting to hear who he reached out to. A disgraced free agent with a lot of life left in him but no one was willing to touch him. He was Ray Rice, just the domestic abuse claim was still three years away.
Michael Waltrip Racing
Kurt mentioned that he reached out to MWR about the possibility of joining what was then the #2 Toyota team. Team manager Ty Norris told him “listen, man, we can’t touch you.” Remember this came after Kurt blew up on Dr. Jerry Punch after his season finale at Homestead ended early. A beloved media member who caught the wrath of Kurt Busch’s rage.
A Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr. lineup for 2012 could have been huge for MWR. That’s not a murderer’s row but it’s a solid lineup that could give you 5 wins a season.
Richard Petty Motorsports/Andrew Murstein
Kurt said that RPM wanted him to drive for the team in 2012. Ultimately Kurt turned down their offer to join Phoenix Racing and race with James Finch. AJ Allmendinger left RPM to replace Kurt Busch at Penske leaving the #43 car open. Imagine Kurt spouting off and Richard grabbing him by the back of the next and giving him a surly whisper in his ear as they walked to the garage.
Getting turned down by a guy desperate to find a job has to be demoralizing. Kurt elected to join Phoenix Racing instead, a team with no factory support.
Kurt would end up at Furniture Row for the 2013 season but when he called Barney Visser to talk about 2012 he was met with an “eh” by the team owner.
At the end of 2012, Todd Barrier called Kurt and told him he needed to come out to Denver and joining Furniture Row. So Kurt packed some bags, slept on Todd’s couch, went to the shop with him at 5 a.m. and became embedded with the team.
Kurt mentioned he knew there was one person he could call that he thought would take him and that was Richard Childress. Kurt offered to drive the 2012 season for FREE but Childress told him he couldn’t do it. But he did tell him that whatever he did to make sure he stayed in the sport.
Richard Childress really should have tried to sign Kurt. It would have been controversial at the time but the benefits a guy like Kurt brings to the team are worth it. Instead, it was just another misstep in the history of RCR.
It’s always interesting to hear drivers talk about what teams they talked to and wonder about what could have been if they ended up there. In Kurt’s case he said he wanted to go to a C-team, then a B-team, and hopefully end up at an A-team again someday. His plan worked out but you have to wonder if it would have had he taken the RPM deal.
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