Kurt Busch's final drive with Phoenix Racing ended with a lap 99 crash and a reprimand from NASCAR that saw the 2004 Cup Series champion parked for disobeying orders to not drive away from safety officials.
Busch was leading when his throttle stalled, forcing him to fall back to Jamie McMurray, who had no choice but to turn the No. 51 Chevrolet off the racing surface. Busch's car slammed backward into the inside retaining wall but was later restarted.
The controversial driver then drew the ire of NASCAR officials when, under caution, he drove his injured car away from the safety crew without his helmet while scattering debris – including a track official's bag – across the apron. NASCAR responded by issuing an order to park Busch for the day.
Busch explained he didn't hear the order to stop, since his helmet (and thus his radio) was off, and was only trying to nurse the car back to the garage for repairs.
"This is the way my life works," Busch said. "Today is a perfect example. I am leading, I wreck, I run out of gas, I'm still that competitive guy that tried to get back in the race and now NASCAR is yelling at me because I don't have my helmet on and I'm trying to get it to the garage so the guys can work on it.
"Now I'm in trouble, now I have this little storm right here. This is my life. I'm not complaining because I put myself in a lot of these situations, but it's on to good things now moving forward. I got all the bad luck out of the way. This year has been a great year to test me in every way."
Busch will drive for Furniture Row Racing next weekend at Charlotte and was seen hugging and shaking hands with his Phoenix Racing crew in a final goodbye.
"That was more of an emotional hug of thanks and all the hard work this year," Busch said. "It just came to an end short. We ran out of gas, ran out of gas while leading. A miscalculation or our fuel cell wasn't picking up all the fuel. That is just small team blues. You work as hard as you can to keep up with the big teams and sometimes little itty bitty numbers will take you out."
Thus ends the relationship between Kurt Busch and James Finch, owner of Phoenix Racing. Together the pair ran 29 Sprint Cup races together; earning two top-10s and six DNFs.
Busch was suspended for a week in June after making disparaging remarks to a reporter but responded with a Nationwide Series victory at Daytona in July for the team's only victory of 2012.
Regan Smith will take over the No. 51 car next week at Charlotte.