Veteran NASCAR driver Kurt Busch will officially begin his final playoff run with Chip Ganassi Racing on Sunday, Sept. 5. Only 10 races remain before he and team owner Chip Ganassi part ways, ending a three-year working relationship full of special moments.
Busch met with Heavy and other members of the media on Tuesday, Aug. 31, to discuss the upcoming playoffs. He took time during the session to reflect on his three years with CGR, the important wins, playoff appearances, and even those moments where he and Ganassi did not see eye-to-eye.
“[Las] Vegas was a special win,” Busch told Heavy. “We’ve had some great memories all the way through. To win at Kentucky, the first time that the [No.] 1 car had been back to Victory Lane in so many years. Atlanta was one of those dominating cars with GearWrench, a sponsor that’s been with Chip Ganassi Racing for — I believe — six years. It was great to deliver that moment for them.”
“The drafting at the superspeedways,” Busch continued. “You know, there was a wreck at a short track where Chip was all over me. It’s been neat to have all of these different emotions with a cool, legendary owner in NASCAR.”
Busch Originally Joined CGR for the 2019 Season
Back in 2018, Busch ended months of rumors about his NASCAR Cup Series future. Per “Frontstretch,” he agreed to a deal in August 2018 to join CGR and replace Jamie McMurray in the No. 1 Chevrolet. This announcement took place after Busch revealed that he would part ways with Stewart-Haas Racing, the organization where he raced for five seasons.
Ganassi mentioned in a press release at the time Busch’s “burning desire to win races and compete for a championship.” He also noted the driver’s history of success at NASCAR’s top level, which included the 2004 Cup Series championship and a Crown Jewel victory in the 2017 Daytona 500.
Busch did not disappoint his new boss during the first season in the No. 1. He posted six top-five finishes, 18 top-10s, and he won at Kentucky Speedway on July 13, 2019. This victory marked the first for the No. 1 car since McMurray captured the checkered flag in the Camping World RV Sales 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in 2013. Busch made the playoffs all three seasons with CGR — twice with wins and once on points — and took the No. 1 to Victory Lane three separate times.
Just as importantly, Busch kept the No. 1 team consistent during a 2020 season in which the No. 42 CGR Chevrolet Camaro made headlines for the wrong reason. Kyle Larson lost his job with CGR after using a racial slur during a virtual race. He remained away from the Cup Series for the remainder of the season while completing his mandatory training and putting in hours of extra work on the side. Meanwhile, retired driver Matt Kenseth took over the No. 42 and posted two top-10 finishes in 32 starts.
Busch Will Soon Join Another NASCAR Team
Once the 2021 playoffs come to an end, Busch will prepare for another major change. He will climb into a Toyota Camry for the first time at the Cup Series level and join 23XI Racing for the 2022 season.
The Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin co-owned team announced the news on Friday, Aug. 27. They confirmed that Busch will join Bubba Wallace on the two-car team, and he will drive the No. 45 Toyota Camry while bringing back a number that Kyle Petty last used in 2008.
The 2004 Cup Series champion will continue to compete at NASCAR’s top level for at least one more year while striving to win a race for a fourth manufacturer. He previously reached Victory Lane in stock cars created by Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge. However, he will first focus on winning more races and trying to lock up a title for Ganassi before CGR’s NASCAR operations become the property of Trackhouse Racing.