Penske, Kurt Busch to reportedly part ways after meltdown in Miami

by | CBSSports.com NASCAR Blogger
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Kurt Busch and Penske Racing have parted ways after yet another embarrassing incident for the 2004 NASCAR champion.

Penske Racing said in a statement Monday it is evaluating its options for the No. 22 Dodge.

The split comes after six bumpy years for Busch and Penske. Although Busch won 10 races since joining the organization in 2006, his meltdowns on his team radio were notorious and two crew chiefs have left the team in the last three years.

Busch also sparred this season with the media more than usual, and was fined $50,000 last month by NASCAR after he was caught on video by a fan being verbally abusive to an ESPN reporter.

The Charlotte Observer earlier reported several sources confirming team owner Roger Penske decided Busch's altercation last month at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the Sprint Cup Series season finale was the last straw in his stormy tenure with the team.

Busch used an obscene gesture and launched into an expletive-laden tirade toward ESPN correspondent Dr. Jerry Punch after Busch left the race early with a transmission problem. The incident was videotaped by a fan and posted on YouTube.

Penske Racing and team sponsor Shell/Pennzoil both issued apologies in the aftermath of the incident and Busch admitted to seeking professional help for his emotional outbursts.

"I need to be a better person on the radio, to the team, as a leader," Busch said during last week's Champion's Week activities in Las Vegas. "I'm actually working with a sports psychologist to try to help me work through that."

The firing would be the second time Busch has lost a Sprint Cup ride due to behavior problems. He was released from Roush Fenway Racing in 2005 after being cited for a DUI in Phoenix. He was parked for the final two events of the season and began his career with Penske the following season.

Penske will now have to find both a driver and crew chief for the No. 22 team after Steve Addington's departure to join Tony Stewart's championship-winning ride in 2012.

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