Kurt Busch cleared to return

Updated: June 12, 2012, 8:25 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kurt Busch will return to the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet for Sunday's Sprint Cup race at Michigan after serving a one-race suspension.

Team owner James Finch made the decision Tuesday after meeting with the 2004 Cup champion, whose NASCAR-imposed suspension ends Wednesday.

Busch
Busch

"At the end of the day, we are racers so we're going racing together with Kurt and the No. 51 Phoenix Racing Chevrolet,'' Finch said in a statement. "We know adjustments have to be made, but how we fix that is between Kurt and myself.

"We're going to go to the track, work hard, race hard and work on trying to attract a sponsor -- and we're going to do that together."

Phoenix Racing general manager Steve Barkdoll said no further comment would be made.

"The statement says it all,'' he said.

Finch previously told ESPN.com that he planned to talk to Busch about whether the two should move forward as a team following the suspension.

"If he's going to kill himself, I'm not going to be in the airplane with him,'' Finch said last week. "If that's what he's planning on doing, I am going to get out.''

Finch replaced Busch this past Sunday at Pocono with David Reutimann, who finished 21st.

Busch was suspended for threatening comments made to a Sporting News reporter following the June 2 Nationwide Series race at Dover International Raceway.

Busch already was on probation for a May 12 incident with Ryan Newman in the Cup race at Darlington. Busch bumped the back of Newman's car on pit road after the race and was cited for reckless driving while exiting his pit box during the event.

That probation, originally scheduled to end July 25, was extended through the end of the season because of the Dover incident, which NASCAR said violated section 12-4 of the rulebook regarding actions detrimental to stock car racing, violations of probation and verbal abuse to a media member.

Busch's outburst at Dover began when he was asked if his probation impacted the way he handled a racing incident with Justin Allgaier.

"It refrains me from not beating the s--- out of you right now because you ask me stupid questions,'' Busch told the reporter, an interview captured on video by Speed. "But because I'm on probation I suppose that's improper to say as well.''

This was the latest in a series of attacks on media members by Busch dating back to last season. He was fined $50,000 following the 2011 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway after delivering an obscene gesture in the direction of the motorcade of First Lady Michelle Obama and a profanity-laced tirade against ESPN's Dr. Jerry Punch.

That incident led to Busch being released by Penske Racing and forced him to sign with underfunded Phoenix Racing for 2012.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter