Kurt Busch is an American stock car racing driver who collected more than 670 race starts in all three NASCAR national series between 2000 and 2017, winning 29 Cup Series races, five Busch/Nationwide Series races, and four Truck Series races. Busch was the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup champion.
Except races and wins, Kurt Busch is also known as one of the NASCAR "bad boys". During his career, he was suspended three times due to legal problems, fights and argues with other drivers, including his own younger brother Kyle, who is also a NASCAR driver and 2015 Sprint Cup Series champion.
Kurt started his racing career at the age of 14
Kurt Thomas Busch was born on August 4, 1978, in Las Vegas. His father was also a race car driver, so the young Kurt attended racing events early in his childhood, driving karts at the age of six. At the age of 14, he entered the Dwarf competition at Pahrump Valley Speedway. Year by year, Kurt progressed and scored many victories. At the age of 18, he started to race in the Legends Series; a year later in the NASCAR Elite Division Southwest. He took a place in the Star Nursery's car after their driver Chris Trickle was wounded (he later died) in the gun-shooting and debuted in the 1997 Winter Heat Series at Tucson Raceway Park.
In 1998, Busch continued to race in the NASCAR Elite Division Southwest, winning the Rookie of the Year award. In 1999, he became the series champion. The next step was his tryout in the Roush Racing "Gong Show", which he won and earned a ride in the #99 Ford F-150 for the 2000 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
NASCAR debut with a second place at Daytona
He had a great debut, finishing in the second place in his first ever NASCAR race, at Daytona International Speedway. Later in the season, Kurt Busch won four races and finished second in the points, behind teammate Greg Biffle. Busch was the Rookie of the Year in the series.
Roush Racing planned to put Kurt Busch in the #97 Ford as a replacement for Chad Little in the 2001 NASCAR Winston Cup Series, but Little was released earlier and Busch debuted in the premier NASCAR series in September 2000. He finished 18th in his Cup Series debut at Dover. Later, he participated in six more races until the end of the season.
Roush Racing's #97 Ford was Busch's car for the next five seasons. In the first full season in Winston Cup Series, Busch scored six top 10 finishes, including a third place at Talladega 500. He finished his debut season 27th in final standings.
Maiden Winston Cup Series victory at Bristol
The #97 Ford was much more competitive in 2002 and the maiden Cup Series victory came in March, at the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway. In the last five races of the season, Kurt celebrated three more times in the Victory Lane, at Martinsville, Atlanta and Homestead-Miami, to finish third in the points, behind Tony Stewart and Mark Martin. In May 2002, during the All-Star Challenge, Busch intentionally tapped and spun Robby Gordon's car. Kurt was fined for the incident and put on probation until the end of the year.
In 2003, Busch again won four races, same as the year before, but he finished 11th in the point standings because his other results weren't so good. He was victorious both times at Bristol and added wins at Fontana and Michigan. The most remembered race wasn't none of those victories but the Carolina Dodge Dealers 400, held at Darlington on March 16. Busch finished second, behind Ricky Craven, in the closest finish in NASCAR's history. The gap was just 0.002 seconds.
Race of Championship winner in 2003
The highlight of the year was Busch's victory at the 2003 International Race of Champions, his first and only triumph in that competition.
Kurt Busch had a few incidents with the rival Jimmy Spencer in 2002. It all culminated in the summer of 2003 at Michigan, when two of them again collided during the race. After the race, Spencer punched Busch in the face, breaking his nose and causing a dental injury.
Busch claimed his only NASCAR title in 2004
In 2004, Kurt Busch had won three races, less than in the previous years, but it was enough for his first and only NASCAR title. He won for the third consecutive time at Food City 500 at Bristol and added two more wins at New Hampshire Motor Speedway to became the winner of the inaugural Nextel Cup Series season.
In February 2005, the new NASCAR champion joined Multimatic Motorsports at 24 hours of Daytona. Busch's teammate in his endurance racing debut were the Canadian sports car racing driver Scott Maxwell and fellow NASCAR drivers Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. They were driving the #49 Multimatic MDP01 prototype and failed to finish due to technical issues.
Drunken driving arrest in Maricopa
In 2005, his last season with Roush Racing, Busch started the season with the second place at Daytona 500. Later he won three times, at Phoenix, Pocono and Richmond, to finish 10th in the final standings. Midway through the season, Busch announced that he would leave Roush Racing and would replace Rusty Wallace in the #2 Dodge of Penske Racing South in the 2006 season.
Busch's season ended two races earlier because he was suspended after a confrontation with Maricopa County Sheriff deputies on November 11, 2005, during the fall Phoenix race weekend. He was pulled over for suspicion of drunken driving and cited for reckless driving. Busch was also sentenced to serve 50 hours of community service.
In the 2006 season, Busch scored his first victory with Penske at Bristol Motor Speedway, which was his fifth win at the track. It was his only win in the 2006 Nextel Cup Series season and he finished 16th in the points.
Victory in the Busch Series debut
In 2006, Kurt made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Texas Motor Speedway, driving the #39 Dodge for Penske. Kurt won that race and later added one more Busch Series victory at Watkins Glen.
Two wins (at Pocono and Michigan) and four more Top 5 results were Busch's score in 2007 Nextel Cup Series season. He finished seventh in the final classification. He participated in four races of the Busch Series, but without victories.
Grandma stopped Busch brothers' feud
In June 2007, Kurt Busch confronted with Tony Stewart at Dover. Busch drove up beside Stewart's car on pit road and almost hit Stewart's crew member. Busch was parked for the rest of the race, he got a point penalty, $100,000 fine, and probation until the end of the year.
At the 2007 All-Star Challenge, Kurt and Kyle Busch fought against each other in the race and they both crashed. The confrontation continued after the race. The Busch brothers did not speak to each other for six months, until a family Thanksgiving reunion. Their grandmother persuaded them to apologize to each other.
Third place at the 2008 Daytona 24 hours
In the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Kurt Busch waited for the next victory until June 29, 2008, at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It was his only Cup victory in 2008 and he finished 18th in the standings.
In 2008, Busch participated for the second time at 24 hours of Daytona and reached the overall podium. He was partnering Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves in the Penske-Taylor Racing #9 Riley-Pontiac. They ended the race in 3rd place, six laps behind the winners.
2009 was the best Sprint Cup season for Kurt
The season 2009 was Busch's best season with Penske #2 Dodge, as he finished fourth in the final standings of the Sprint Cup Series. He was the winner in Atlanta and Texas, adding eight more Top 5 finishes.
Kurt Busch spent two more seasons driving for Penske, finishing 11th in the points in both seasons. In 2010, the #2 Dodge was victorious at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway. In 2010, Busch switched to #22 Dodge, swapping the car and crew with Brad Keselowski, and he took the victories at Sonoma and Dover. Busch also scored a victory in his one-off appearance in the Nationwide Series, driving the #22 Dodge at Watkins Glen as a replacement for the injured teammate Keselowski.
Drag racing adventure
Kurt Busch is strictly a stock car driver, but success at Daytona 24h proved that he could be successful in other racing disciplines. In 2011, he got the NHRA competition license for drag racing and debuted in March. Busch is only the third driver to have competed both in NASCAR and NHRA, the other two being Richard Petty and John Andretti.
One season with Phoenix Racing
After six seasons with Penske, Busch was released from the team at the end of the 2011 season and he made an agreement with Phoenix Racing to drive the #51 Chevrolet in the 2012 Sprint Cup season. The results weren't satisfying: his best finish was the third place at Sonoma, so Busch moved to the Furniture Row Racing's #78 Chevrolet for the last five races of the season.
During 2012, Busch was also driving Phoenix Racing's #1 Chevrolet in four races of the Nationwide Series, winning the race at Daytona. It was his last Nationwide Series victory. Kurt Busch was driving eleven races of the Nationwide Series in the #54 Toyota of his brother's team Kyle Busch Motorsports, winning the race at Richmond.
Video : Kurt Busch's crashes and conflicts in his 2012 Cup Season
One more suspension in 2012
During 2012, Busch had been fined $50,000 and placed on probation from May to July, because of reckless driving on the pit road during the race and for being involved in an altercation with another competitor after the completion of the race. The reason was his conflict with Ryan Newman and his crew at Darlington Raceway. On June 4, while still on probation, Busch talked rudely to a reporter at Dover. NASCAR suspended him and extended the probation until December.
The #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet was Busch's car in the 2013 season. It was another season without victories. In general, Busch had strong results, finishing eleven times in the Top 5, to finish 10th in the points.
Multi-year agreement with Stewart-Haas Racing
For the 2014 season, Busch signed a deal with Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the #41 Chevrolet SS. The team co-owner Gene Haas stated he would fund Busch's ride exclusively. In March, he won the race at Martinsville, his first since October 2011. It remained Busch's only victory in 2014 and he finished 12th in the points.
Sixth place at the 2014 Indianapolis 500 race
In May 2014, Kurt Busch decided to try something different from stock racing and he joined Andretti Autosport for the Indianapolis 500. He started 12th on the grid and surprisingly finished 6th to claim the Rookie of the Year honors. It was the Memorial Day weekend and Kurth Busch had a Double Duty program, driving the Coca-Cola 600 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway the same day. He failed to complete all 1,100 miles in two races because the engine of his #41 Chevrolet blew up with less than 30 laps left.
Three years of Monster Energy
In 2015, the season started with his indefinite suspension by NASCAR because of legal issues after he was charged with abusing his ex-girlfriend. Regan Smith replaced Busch in the #41 car for three races. Busch was back in the fourth round in March. His first win in the 2015 season came in the ninth round at Richmond. In June, he added one more victory at Michigan International Speedway. At the end of the season, Busch was 8th in the points, which was his best result since 2009.
In 2016, Kurt Busch remained in the Monster Energy sponsored #41 Chevrolet of Stewart-Haas Racing for the third season in a row. After four top 5 finishes, he claimed his 28th Cup Series victory on June 6, at Pocono Raceway.
Daytona 500 victory in 2017
In 2017, Kurt Busch was the race winner just once, but he collected the most precious trophy, the one at Daytona 500. It remained the highlight of the season which he ended 14th in the points. He was in the top 10 in thirteen races.