Owner still hopes to keep Cup champ in No. 97
DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Car owner Jack Roush is still thinking about letting Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch out of the final year of his contract in 2006.
"We will consider releasing him, but it's not presumed that we will," Roush said Monday at Darlington Raceway.
"We've got to consider ... the interests of our sponsors and the commitments we've made to our sponsors and to our people within the organization ... to see how it all fits together if we decide to have Kurt drive the number 97 car.
"Right now, the presumption is that he'll be in the car in 2006 because that's a commitment he's made to me and I've made commitments to others around that," Roush said.
Last week, Busch signed a deal to drive for Roger Penske in 2007 and asked Roush to be released from his current contract after this season.
Roush already faces a high-profile opening next season with Mark Martin's pending retirement. Roush signed Jamie McMurray to replace Martin in 2007 but does not have anyone lined up to drive the No. 6 car next year.
McMurray wants to leave Chip Ganassi Racing after 2005 but can't get out of the final year of his agreement.
Roush said that's OK with him.
"I don't want Jamie McMurray to drive for me in 2006," the owner said. "I want him to do exactly for Chip Ganassi what he's agreed to do, and I don't want to interfere with that. There's no circumstance under which I would consider a bargain or try to make a deal for that to happen."
Roush understood that Busch had a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" to go with Penske.
Still, "the thing with Kurt's been tough," Roush said. "He's been a challenge in a lot of ways. A lot of talented, bright and effective people are. He knows what he's looking for and is impatient with the things that don't line up for him."
Last weekend at Watkins Glen, N.Y., Busch said he hoped Roush would rethink his stance about 2006.
"It's Jack's decision," Busch said Saturday at Watkins Glen International. "We'll see what happens."
Roush was at Darlington filming the final installments of "Driver X: The Race For The Ride," an upcoming reality show for the Discovery Channel. The 13-week series, which begins Oct. 31, will show how Roush Racing selects new drivers through competition and training on and off the racetrack.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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