By Jim Utter
Kurt Busch will be doing plenty of racing in the 2012 NASCAR season.
On Friday, Phoenix Racing announced it had hired the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion to drive for its No. 51 Chevrolet team next season.
The No. 51 entered every Cup race in 2011 with several different drivers. The news release announcing Busch’s move said he would drive a “full schedule” with the team.
Busch is also expected to join forces with his younger brother, Kyle, and drive for Kyle’s Nationwide series team in 2012, the Observer and ThatsRacin.com have learned.
One option being considered is for Kurt Busch to run the full Nationwide schedule and compete for the series championship, multiple sources said.
Under NASCAR’s current system, Busch will only be able to earn driver points in only one series. It remains unclear what effect Friday’s Cup announcement will have on the Nationwide plans.
A spokesman for Kyle Busch Motorsports said Friday the team was still finalizing its driver lineup and would not have any official announcements until after Jan. 1.
Kurt Busch parted ways with Penske Racing earlier this month, ending his six-year tenure with the organization. He has won 24 Cup races and the 2004 series championship in his career.
Busch’s first race with Finch will be the Feb. 18 Budweiser Shootout, which he won last season.
“It’s going to be old-school racing, where we show up, race hard and go for the win,” Kurt said of his new Cup ride with Phoenix. “And if we don’t win, we’ll go back to the shop, work hard and do it all over again next week.
“That’s the way we all started racing, and it’s great to get back to that.”
James Finch, owner of Phoenix Racing, celebrated his 20th year as a team owner in 2011. His Spartanburg, S.C.-based team has won 13 NASCAR races, the most prominent being the April 2009 Cup race at Talladega, Ala., with then-driver Brad Keselowski.
“All we want to do is win,” Finch said. “Winning is why I’ve been in racing for as long as I have, but NASCAR is a very competitive sport, and winning – especially at the Sprint Cup level – is hard.
“But now with Kurt Busch as our driver, we have a shot to win every week.”