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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Don't be surprised if Kurt Busch ends up in the 43 car next year

With the 2012 season ending in a couple months, people are already starting to think about 2013, and where free agents might end up.

Some of the talk revolves around Joey Logano, who most likely will end up in the 22 car next year.

But another car that's probably in play is the 43 car at Richard Petty Motorsports. Aric Almirola hasn't exactly been racking up great finishes (only two top-10 finishes all year), and RPM won't confirm that he'll be back in the fold next season for the team.

And if he is replaced, who better to take his spot that Kurt Busch?

Busch is a Cup champion who can win races in the right equipment. He's done it for Roush, he's done it for Penske, and if he got in a decent ride again he could win again. I don't see him staying at the Finch team he's currently driving for; someone of his talent won't stay in a backmarker car for long. So the question becomes: where does he go?

Of course, there are the temperament issues that led to him losing his rides at Roush and Penske. Kurt is a hothead, and the big teams know that. There's no room at Hendrick, Roush likely doesn't want him back, RCR has enough issues with 3 cars and doesn't need a 4th. Joe Gibbs is still sorting out their own deals.

So the most likely option is Busch goes to a mid-level team, and the best option available there is at RPM. Marcos Ambrose has shown that the team's cars are capable of solid runs, and Busch is definitely an improvement over Almirola, who realistically is a driver who can succeed in Nationwide and Trucks but likely isn't going to be a Cup superstar.

RPM would be smart to give Busch a chance, as long as Kurt knows from the start that outbursts like the ones that led to his dismissal from Penske Racing aren't going to be tolerated.

The 43 is a legendary number in NASCAR, and putting a championship driver in that car would be a good move for the team in 2013. So don't be surprised if that ends up happening.

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