Reigning Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch is changing teams, moving from Roush Racing to Penske Racing South. The only question is when.
Busch signed a multiyear contract to drive for Penske starting in 2007 and asked to be released from his current contract with Roush Racing, apparently in hopes of replacing retiring Rusty Wallace next season. In a statement, Roush said the team will wait for "an indefinite period" before making a decision on Busch's request to leave after this season.
Busch attended the Cubs-Reds baseball game yesterday at Wrigley Field in Chicago and initially fended off questions about the move, saying, "It's just baseball today."
But, after throwing out the first pitch and leading the crowd in singing "Take Me Out To The Ball Game" during the seventh inning stretch, he did talk.
"There's still so much more work to be done in the meantime. I've got an opportunity to win a championship in 2005, as well as 2006, for whomever I drive for," Busch said. "There's times for change and then there's times for staying put," he added. "I haven't made my 2006 plans very clear yet."
Roush is in much the same situation as the Penske team, with Jamie McMurray, currently driving for Chip Ganassi Racing, signed for 2007 to replace Mark Martin, who is planning to retire at the end of this season.
That leaves the No. 6 Ford without a driver for 2006, although Martin has said he would consider staying an extra year if Jack Roush, his longtime boss, needs him.
But Wallace, a part owner of the Penske team, has said repeatedly this will be his final year in the driver's seat.
Roush came to NASCAR's top stock car series in 1988 with one driver, Martin, and has turned the team into a five-car juggernaut with Busch, Martin, Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards. The team has won two straight championships and leads everyone this season with nine victories in the first 21 races, including two by Busch.
Roush went 16 years before Kenseth gave him his first Cup title in 2003. Busch then won it in 2004, the first year of NASCAR's 10-race, playoff-style Chase for the Championship.
Busch, who turned 27 last week, stands fifth in this year's points race, 277 points behind leader Tony Stewart.
-- From News Services