DOVER, Del. – Who knew?
When Kurt Busch opted to change race teams, he also severed his psychic bond with Charlie Sheen.
Busch and Furniture Row Racing general manager Joe Garone took questions Friday in the Dover International Speedway media center, confirming that Busch will take the seat of the No. 78 Chevrolet for the final six races of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Earlier this week, Denver, Colo.-based Furniture Row announced the signing of Busch to a one-year contract for 2013. Busch has been driving the No. 51 Chevrolet of James Finch this season after parting with Penske Racing at the end of the 2011 campaign.
At the Friday press conference, Busch took umbrage at the perception that he’s making a lateral move.
“That’s a slap in the face to (Furniture Row owner) Barney Visser, because he has put together a program that is tiers above, levels of competition above where James Finch is — and James will admit to that,” Busch said.
“Barney Visser, this program, they are committed. Their alliance with Richard Childress (Racing), it’s there and it’s solid. That’s why, when you say a lateral move, I don’t like it so much. It’s a slap in the face to Barney Visser, but everybody in this garage area knows . . . if you have a hard card (a NASCAR annual credential), you know the differences in the teams.”
Busch will race for the first time with Furniture Row on Oct. 13 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a move that will give him time to get to know his new team and crew chief Todd Berrier.
“I can’t wait to get in the car and deliver,” Busch said. “It’s great to get a jump on 2013. That way we don’t go to Daytona (in February) with a deer-in-the-headlights feel. We’re going to get all the bugs worked out of the way, the newness, the operating procedures, the trips back and forth to Denver — all this will be scienced out and smoothed out.
“Heck, it’s just an opportunity to get in a quality car this year, and I can’t wait.”
Busch, who vowed to enjoy his time with Finch when he took the job in the No. 51 car, had some fun with the media at the close of his news conference.
“I had the wrong approach, I think, in the beginning of the season,” said Busch, who has had an uneasy relationship with the media. “I was following my Zen master Charlie Sheen, and that wasn’t going very well.
“So I had to look back, look around and then I followed another top-10 most hated athlete guy (according to an ESPN list), LeBron James. He brought his talents down to Miami and won a championship down there. So I’m going to take my talents to Denver and bring a championship out there.”
Busch, an ardent baseball fan, has found a new role model on the diamond.
“I decided that I didn’t need Charlie Sheen, so I’m going to look at a new Zen master,” Busch said. “I found him. It’s Bryce Harper, 19-year-old phenom out of Vegas (Busch’s home town). He’s the (Washington) Nationals guy that’s helped their team get into the playoffs.
“He’s so wise. He told the media, ‘No more clown questions. I’m not going to answer any clown questions.’ So I’m really looking up to a 19-year-old Bryce Harper to help me through all this.”