Who Is Kurt Busch In NASCAR?
Kurt Busch has had the longest Cup Series career of any active NASCAR driver, and he is still going strong today. Recently making headlines by joining Bubba Wallace at 23XI Racing, this racing legend clearly still has something left to prove. But who is Kurt Busch in NASCAR? Keep reading to find out all about NASCAR’s modern Iron Man.
Kurt Thomas Busch was born and raised in Las Vegas, Nevada. He grew up going to local races with his father, Thomas, who bought him a go-kart and enrolled him in a kart racing series at the age of six. Beginning at age 14, he competed in the Dwarf Series, racing modified stock cars with his younger brother Kyle serving as crew chief. (Kyle Busch also went on to a career driving in the Cup Series; he has won two championships).
After getting his start racing Dwarf Series modifieds, Kurt Busch also ran a few races in the IMCA Modified series, which is the premier modified division of the International Motor Contest Association.
Busch got his big break at age 20 when the Star Nursery Racing Team suddenly needed a driver for their No. 70 car in the NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series for the 1998 season. He excelled immediately, earning Rookie of the Year, then followed that up by winning the series championship in 1999.
The attention garnered by winning the AutoZone Elite Division, Southwest Series championship resulted in Busch being given a tryout at a Roush Racing “Gong Show.” He won the tryout competition, earning a full-time ride in their No. 99 Ford F-150 for the 2000 season of the Craftsman (now Camping World) Truck series.
Busch again made a good impression during his rookie season, winning his first Trucks Series race in the 2000 Copart 200 at the Milwaukee Mile. He achieved three more victories–at New Hampshire, Dover, and Fontana–and finished the season second in driver’s points, easily earning Craftsman Trucks Series Rookie of the Year.
While Kurt Busch was having a breakout rookie season in the Trucks Series, Chad Little, one of Roush’s Cup Series drivers, was struggling. Little was released midway through the 2000 season, and Busch was immediately promoted to fill his seat in the No. 97 Ford. He made his Cup Series debut in the DuraMAX Drydene 400 at Dover Motor Speedway, where he finished 18th. Busch made seven Cup Series starts for Roush Racing at the end of 2000, finishing a season-best 13th at the Charlotte Roval.
Cup Series Career
Kurt Busch’s Cup Series career has been long and sometimes tumultuous. In the course of nearly 800 starts, he has raced for seven different teams, the most recent of which is his current home at 23XI Racing. His early years in the Cup Series, though his most successful, were marred by controversy and conflict, often with fellow racers and journalists. As his career has gone on, Busch’s attitude and persona have changed considerably; he is now a veteran driver on a highly competitive team and a role model in the sport.
Busch’s first Cup Series win came in his 2002 season, in the Food City 500 at Bristol. He followed that up with three additional victories at Martinsville, Atlanta, and Homestead-Miami. Arguably his best season in the Cup Series was 2004. Busch won the spring Bristol race and both races at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That season was the first year that NASCAR implemented the “Chase for the Championship” playoff format. Busch won the inaugural playoffs, taking home the 2004 NASCAR Nextel Cup Series championship.
For 2006, Busch moved to Penske Racing South (now Team Penske), driving the No. 2 Dodge. That season, his sole win came in the Food City 500, which was his fifth victory at Bristol. He had a few solid seasons with Penske, finishing fourth in driver’s points in 2009.
After parting ways from Penske Racing in 2011, Busch declined an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports, instead signing with Phoenix Racing to drive the No. 51 Chevrolet in the 2012 Cup Series season. For the 2013 season, he moved again, driving the No. 78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing (FRR). Busch moved again the following season, ending up in the No. 41 for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014.
Busch started seeing renewed success upon moving to Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) for the 2019 season, driving the unmistakable all-black No. 1 Monster Energy-sponsored Chevrolet. After making the playoffs three seasons in a row, Kurt Busch made his most recent move to the newly-formed 23XI Racing, owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin. Driving the No. 45 Toyota alongside new teammate Bubba Wallace, Busch is off to a strong start in the 2022 season.