Kurt Busch gets pink slip | NevadaAppeal.com
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Kurt Busch gets pink slip

Roger Diez
For the Nevada Appeal

Merry Christmas to all, and I hope Santa leaves whatever you want under the tree. With 7 billion people on the planet now, old Santa will really have to hustle to get everything delivered overnight. I have it on good authority that he has ordered a new Hendrick sled chassis, and has outfitted the reindeer with fuel injection (those carburetors don’t work well at high altitude). I’ve got the Santa pit sign hanging next to my chimney.

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Kurt Busch is not having the best holiday season. Roger Penske gave Kurt a lump of coal and a pink slip shortly after the season ended. Kurt’s rants over the radio throughout the season were capped off by an obscenity-laced tirade to Dr. Jerry Punch that earned him a $50,000 fine. The Captain had no choice but to send Kurt down the road in order to maintain morale and discipline on the team. It’s the second time Busch has been 86’d by a top-tier team, losing his ride with Roush Racing after Kurt’s run-in with the Phoenix Sheriff’s office over an alleged drunk-driving incident. Rumors that Busch was being considered to replace A.J. Allmendinger at RPM Racing proved to be backwards, as an announcement last Wednesday confirmed that A.J. would drive the No. 22 Dodge in 2012. Busch is said to have declined the ride in the No. 43, and late last week he signed to drive the No. 51 Chevy.

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RPM has lost Best Buy sponsorship for the No. 43 Ford, as the company has moved their money over to the Roush No. 17 team of Matt Kenseth for nine of the 36 point races. So who will drive the 43 next year? David Ragan looks to be the top choice, but David Reutimann, and Brian Vickers are both good drivers without rides for 2012.

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It may be Sprint Cup’s silliest season ever, with wholesale changes. Kasey Kahne is moving from the defunct Red Bull team to take over the No. 5 Chevy at Hendrick Racing, with Kenny Francis as his crew chief. Champion crew chief Darian Grubb will move to the Gibbs organization and run the pit box for Denny Hamlin.

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Don’t expect to see as much of the “two-car tango” drafting at the big restrictor plate tracks in 2012. NASCAR has made some technical changes in order to discourage two cars running together for extended periods. The radiator size will be reduced to two gallons from five, with the overflow tank also getting a reduction from one gallon to half that capacity. In addition, the radiator inlet will be moved closer to the front center bumper area. A smaller rear spoiler and softer springs will also be mandated for the season opener. Teams are scheduled to test the new changes in mid-January, which will give the team engineers about five weeks to come up with innovative ways around the new rules.

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Finally, Christmas came a little early for 15 IndyCar teams, who picked up their brand-new 2012 Dallara chassis at the factory on December 15. The next 15 deliveries are due on January 15, with a total of 60 chassis scheduled to be complete in time for the March 25 season opener in St. Petersburg.