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.