Word on the street--and not yet confirmed--has Kurt Busch out as driver of Roger Penske's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series No. 22 Pennzoil Dodge in 2012.
A report from Jim Utter of the Charlotte Observer/thatsracin.com cites sources close to the team for this information, with confirmation expected on December 5 from Penske Racing.
Busch made lewd and obscene comments and gestures to Dr Jerry Punch of ESPN and his cameraman who were waiting to interview the driver following his early retirement from the season-closing Ford 400 on the 1.5-mile Homestead-Miami Speedway oval.
Busch experienced terminal transmission trouble 22 laps into the 267-lap contest and drove immediately to the garage.
After a fan caught the exchange with a cell phone, NASCAR penalized the former champion $50,000 and Penske Racing said they'd have more to say after an internal investigation. Busch has apologized for his action and engaged a therapist to assist with anger management control.
Shortly after the season ended, Busch's crew chief Steve Addington left the team to work with 2011 Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing.
If Busch does get his walking papers, it won't be the first time. He was removed from his job with Ford stalwarts Roush Fenway Racing in November of 2005, less than a year after winning the championship. Busch had been cited for criminal recklessness in a purported alcohol-related incident while preparing to race at Phoenix International Raceway.
He sat out the final two races of the season, and went to work for Penske the following year. Busch has 10 victories with Penske Racing, and a best Chase for the Sprint Cup result of fourth in 2009.
© 2011 Anne Proffit