Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Reutimann to replace Kurt Busch at Pocono; Finch to meet with Busch

Suspended this weekend, Kurt Busch will be replaced in the No. 51 at Pocono
by David Reutimann. Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
Phoenix Racing owner James Finch has found a replacement for Kurt Busch following the Sprint Cup champion’s suspension and said he will meet with Busch next week to urge the volatile driver to “get his mind right.”

David Reutimann, who drives the No. 10 Chevrolet for Tommy Baldwin Racing, will fill in for Busch in the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing this weekend at Pocono Raceway. Tommy Baldwin Racing will shuffle its driver lineup during Reutimann’s absence: Dave Blaney will pilot the No. 10 car and Tony Raines will return to the No. 36.

“I understand the position James was put in this week,” TBR owner Tommy Baldwin said in a team release Tuesday. “As an owner of a small team, I wanted to help him out. We talked and thought that this lineup would be best for both of our teams.”

On Monday, NASCAR suspended Busch through June 13 for verbally abusing a Sporting News reporter after Saturday’s Nationwide race at Dover. Busch will also be on probation until the end of the season, extending this date from the Darlington incident on pit road with Ryan Newman's crew. His original probation was set to expire in July.

David Reutimann has stepped up to help out Finch, inciting
a round of musical seats in the NASCAR garage.
Credit: Debbie Ross/Skirts and Scuffs
In an interview Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR radio, Finch said he will have a "come-to-Jesus meeting” with Busch next Tuesday and talk to the driver about keeping his anger in check – or he can start looking for a new job.

“Kurt needs to get on track and go forward,” Finch said. “I don’t want to give up on the talent that Kurt has. Kurt’s one of the best drivers there. He’s got some problems that he’s got to work through. Hopefully he can do that and if he can’t, then I’ve got to go forward.”

Finch and Busch made a handshake agreement that Busch would drive one year for the team owner after Busch and Penske Racing “mutually parted” ways following the 2011 season. The split came after a series of run-ins Busch had with media, including going after a NASCAR.com reporter and ripping up an Associated Press reporter’s transcript at Richmond, and berating an ESPN reporter during the Homestead season finale.

“Hopefully, if we can get Kurt’s mind right, we can win some races. And if he can’t get his mind right, so we can race into the future, then I’ll have to go do something else. It’s just that simple,” Finch said.

Finch told SiriusXM NASCAR that Busch’s antics have affected his ability to find sponsorship.

“If I can’t get a sponsor, I can’t keep running without a sponsor,” Finch said. “That’s a slow death. I don’t want to do that.”


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