AFTER Steve Addington resigned as Kurt Busch's crew chief following the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale last month, the question was, who would succeed Addington? Now, there's a bigger question: Who will replace Busch in the No. 22 Dodge?
Busch and Penske Racing parted ways yesterday in what is described as a "mutual agreement."
Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR recently for uttering profanities while waiting to do an interview with an ESPN reporter at the season finale. Previously, Busch had temper outbursts toward his crew during races.
Reports indicate that David Ragan will replace Busch at Penske Racing. Ragan lost his job with Roush Fenway Racing after the season when RFR cut back to three cars for economic reasons. Ragan, 25, won his first career Cup race at Daytona in July.
Other contenders for the Penske vacancy include Brian Vickers, Sam Hornish Jr. and David Reutimann. Hornish has driven for Penske in NASCAR and Indy-car racing.
Working with Addington, now Tony Stewart's crew chief, Busch won two races this year - at Dover, Del., and Sonoma, Calif. The 2004 Cup series champion has 24 career Cup victories.
Busch and brother Kyle finished at the bottom of the Chase for the Championship: 11th and 12th, respectively.
This is the second time off-track problems have cost Kurt, 33, a ride with a top Cup team. In November 2005 Busch was fired by Roush Fenway Racing after what police in Avondale, Ariz., described as an alcohol-related vehicular incident.
During an interview yesterday on Sirius XM Radio, Busch said he has been seeing a sports psychologist for "a couple months." He said he wants to "pause, take a deep breath" so he'll be "a better driver and better person. Sometimes my frankness and intensity don't play the way I intended them."
Busch said he has apologized to the ESPN reporter, Dr. Jerry Punch. In saying there was "no excuse" for his behavior, Busch stressed that his profanity was not aimed at Punch but the ESPN producer, who was delaying the interview, and the cameraman who had a camera in Busch's face even though the interview had not started.
Busch's options for a Cup ride next year are limited since there are no vacancies with top teams.