On the surface, Tuesday's announcement that Kurt Busch will join Stewart-Haas Racing next season, teaming with the equally volatile Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick, appears to be a recipe for disaster.
Three of NASCAR's most tempestuous personalities coupled with tempers as big—if not bigger—than their respective egos and individual talent. Doesn't anyone see something wrong with this picture?
But dig a bit under the surface and Busch joining SHR could wind up being nothing short of a stroke of genius by team co-owner Gene Haas, who engineered luring Busch away from his current Furniture Row Racing home.
Sure, the elder Busch brother will come to SHR with some admitted baggage. He's still trying to rebuild his career after being dismissed from Penske Racing following the ugly incident with ESPN broadcaster Dr. Jerry Punch in the 2011 season finale at Homestead.
But to his credit, Busch has done a great deal of work on himself and his temper. He's more in control of himself today; just like he's been more in control of his race car this season.
And Tuesday could be the start of the final step of Busch's journey back to prominence, significance and relevance—and into contention to win his second (or more) Cup championship.
Busch was the first winner of the (then) new-fangled Chase for the Nextel Cup (which has since been changed to Chase for the Sprint Cup) back in 2004.
As his career proceeded from there—and he became involved in more skirmishes with fellow drivers and the media—it began to look more and more likely that Busch's first Cup title would also be his last.
That is, until Tuesday's announcement at SHR's headquarters in suburban Charlotte.
Busch will soon be back where he belongs as one of NASCAR's preeminent drivers and an annual championship contender, and he'll have SHR to both thank and potentially take to the next level.
Sure, being teammates with Stewart and Harvick will make for some strange bedfellows, especially since Busch has been foes many times with Smoke and almost constantly from day one with Harvick.
Will they put each other on their respective Christmas card lists? Unlikely.
But if they can coexist on a race track and have each other's back against rivals, the Stewart-Harvick-Busch trio has the potential to become one of the greater dream teams in the sport's history.
Even though the announcement is now official, it still is a quizzical move for Busch.
He easily could have written his ticket with other teams where he'd likely be the No. 1 or maybe No. 2 driver at the very least; teams like Richard Childress Racing or Earnhardt Ganassi Racing.
But Busch chose otherwise. Maybe being No. 1 or No. 2 in an organization just isn't that important to him anymore.
Or maybe he feels his actions will do the talking for him. Maybe he will become the best driver in the SHR camp before too long (okay, admittedly that may be a stretch with a three-time champion teammate like Stewart).
Busch has virtually nothing to lose and everything to gain with his soon-to-be new team. He has an organization that not only has great people working for it, but also has some of the best equipment money can buy (courtesy of Hendrick Motorsports, of course).
Will joining SHR keep Busch's noted temper in check? Will he suddenly make Stewart and Harvick more gentlemanly and less fiery?
Probably not (to either question). All three are diehard racers and will continue to be such.
They'll still get into skirmishes with other drivers. Tempers will flare and maybe we'll see even a few shoves or punches. Fireworks will continue to happen on and off the racetrack, and not just in the air to make fans go "ooh" and "aah."
Heck, I bet someone has already started a pool for how long it will take the new three amigos to go at it with each other—or at least Stewart or Harvick to get into it with their new teammate.
But if there's one thing I've learned in over 30 years of covering pro sports, it's that sometimes the most bitter rivals make for the best teammates.
Follow me on Twitter @JerryBonkowski
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