NASCAR: Kurt Busch retiring after 2021 Cup season?

Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kurt Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kurt Busch hinted that the 2021 season could be his last, although he has left that up for interpretation.

Kurt Busch is one of only two active full-time NASCAR Cup Series drivers who had the opportunity to compete against the legendary seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt before his passing nearly 20 years ago.

Busch is in his 21st season of full-time competition and his third as the full-time driver of the #1 Chevrolet for Kurt Busch, and he is in a contract year.

During his Daytona 500 media availability, he didn’t really have anything much to say about the potential of a new deal to return to the sport in 2022.

“No real soft deadline,” Busch said. “One thing I learned in 2020 is that you have to be fluid – that seemed to be the word of the year. And following that stream, I feel like with Ganassi, [primary sponsor] Monster Energy, myself, Chevrolet – all this will come together for the right reasons at the right time.”

But is there a chance that nothing is meant to come together?

Just a few days before the Daytona 500, he was featured in this Monster Energy “Shifting Gears” video.

Busch stated that he was leaving it “open for interpretation” regarding whether or not this meant that the 2021 season would be his last and that the video was a “reflection of my career”.

However, it sure appears that that’s what it could mean.

In the video, Busch took a call from Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski after Michael Waltrip “reported” Busch’s retirement.

Gronkowski recently came out of retirement to rejoin former New England Patriots teammate Tom Brady in Tampa to win a fourth Super Bowl, and he told Busch not to call it a career.

But in the video, Busch stated the following:

“Is retirement for me? Am I ready to retire? I’ve won it all. I’ve done it all. I’m so very satisfied. And it’s been a great ride. … It’s all said and done. Put a stamp on it. I’m out.”

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The 42-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native is a Daytona 500 champion, a Coca-Cola 600 champion and a Cup Series champion. He is a 32-time Cup Series race winner, and his 32nd win came at his home track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He had never won there prior to last September.

He had said before that he wanted the opportunity to compete in the Generation 7 car, and the extension that he signed at the end of the 2019 season gave him the opportunity to do that, given the fact that the car’s introduction was slated for the 2021 season.

However, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, that introduction was delayed to the 2022 season.

But Busch is still out of a contract at the end of the year.

We already saw the pandemic impact what was supposed to be Jimmie Johnson’s farewell tour throughout the 2020 season after he announced that it would be his last. Still, he decided to stick to his plan to retire at the end of the year, and he did just that.

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So will Kurt Busch be back for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, or will the 2021 season be his last? Regardless of what happens, he seems to be at peace with it.