On the Hot Seat: Kurt Busch is the first in a series of articles designed to examine drivers who might find themselves in a different spot in the 2022 season. This may be due to contract prospects, developments in the sport, or evolving interests.
Kurt Busch has been a mainstay in the NASCAR Cup Series for over two decades. The Las Vegas, Nevada native has had a tumultuous career seeing him drive for close to half a dozen teams. Going into the 2021 season the elder Busch brother has logged 32 wins, 150 top-fives, and 315 top-tens. He is the 2004 NASCAR Cup Series Champion and the winner of the 2017 Daytona 500. Despite a Hall of Fame-worthy resume, 2021 finds Kurt Busch in possibly the hottest seat of his entire career.
For the driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, 2021 marks his third full-time season racing for Mr. Ganassi. Busch’s tenure in the No. 1 has been quite successful, producing at least one win per year, with a corresponding playoff appearance each time.
If recent retirement trends are any indication, at age 42, Kurt Busch is undeniably in the latter portion of his NASCAR Cup Series career. 2021 marks another one-year deal with Ganassi to drive the No. 1 Chevrolet. As of the Daytona 500, there is no clear indication of what the future holds for the 2004 series champion. He is indeed in the hot seat, though not necessarily due to his performance.
Chip Ganassi Racing is a mega-team that transcends all aspects of major American motorsports. In addition to the two cars the team fields for the Cup Series, CGR also maintains a successful operation in IndyCar as well as IMSA. By his slogan, Chip Ganassi ‘likes winners’ and Kurt Busch is most certainly a winner. This fact opens doors for Busch to move within the Ganassi organization.
Busch seems to be aware of the proverbial clock ticking on his racing career. He remains a viable threat to win every weekend in the Cup Series, but his interests may lie elsewhere. In several interviews, Busch has hinted at an interest in racing sports cars. There is a strong possibility that 2022 may find Kurt Busch behind the wheel of one of Chip Ganassi’s IMSA entries instead of a NASCAR Cup Series car.
Early predictions by oddsmakers have Kurt Busch as a strong favorite to make the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. And a strong playoff run may make for either a fitting send-off for the former series champion or at least make for him a difficult decision.
No matter what the future holds, Kurt Busch is most certainly a hot seat to watch for the 2021 season!