SBD/December 6, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Penske Racing Pres: Shell Did Not Force Firing Of Kurt Busch

Busch said he did not "enjoy the formality" of the Penske Racing team's process
Penske Racing announced yesterday that driver Kurt Busch will not return next season to drive the No. 22 Dodge sponsored by Shell for the upcoming NASCAR Sprint Cup season, but team President Tim Cindric said that Shell execs “did not force the firing,” according to Bob Pockrass of SCENE DAILY. Cindric said, “It was the team that decided from our end that we should sit down and see if this is how we go forward or not. Obviously Kurt wasn’t happy and wasn’t happy for quite some time. Shell, obviously being a big partner of ours, they have a lot of input but they certainly didn’t come to us and say we need to replace Kurt or we need to sit down.” He added, “They weighed all the situations like everybody else did and looked at the effects on their brand, as did we” (SCENEDAILY.com, 12/5). In Charlotte, Tom Sorensen writes racing is “part of what Busch does,” but he also “has to appease sponsors.” And if fans think “that’s unfair, you don’t understand racing.” Sorensen: "Sponsors pay enormous money to help underwrite the team for which Busch drives. Sponsors are entitled. They’re entitled to a driver who is strong enough and secure enough and sane enough not go off because, oh no, not everything went his way. ... Talent talks. Sponsors talk louder” (CHARLOTTE OBSERVER, 12/6).

BOYS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN: Busch yesterday said, "I missed the '80s, man, when it (racing) was fun." He added, "I want to put the fun back into my racing, and I can honestly say I just didn't enjoy the formality of the processes of the Penske Racing team." Busch said the phone is ringing “off the hook as we talk." Busch: "It's a chance to pause, take a deep breath. I feel a lot lighter already just by being able to have all these options to look at” (SI.com, 12/5). Meanwhile, YAHOO SPORTS’ Jay Busbee noted Busch on his website “offers up an interesting little fireside chat about his separation (firing? quitting? mutually agreed parting?) from Penske Racing.” The video, which “looks like it was shot while Busch was preparing for a Christmas card photo, is a little odd, to say the least.” The video “makes him more human” (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 12/5).
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