Multiple media sources are saying that a fourth car at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is available if Kurt Busch wants it. With the controversies that have befallen Busch (see video), if that first sentence was stated two years ago, it would have sounded absurd.
“We are not ready to expand to a fourth team.”
Tony Stewart made that statement last month after announcing Ryan Newman would not be back at SHR in 2014 and his organization wasn’t looking to expand to four cars. Now it appears SHR is indeed willing to add another car to the fold if Kurt Busch accepts a multiyear deal offered him. Should Busch accept the offer, he would join Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick plus Kevin Harvick, who’s at Richard Childress Racing (RCR) but will be with SHR next season.
Change of attitude
Kurt Busch nearly ended his career with one too many diatribes as Penske Racing terminated his job at the end of the 2011 season. That left Kurt looking for anything in 2012 when single-car team owner James Finch offered him a ride. It did not seem at the time that Busch had learned a great deal from his missteps at Penske as he was suspended at one point mid-season and put on probation for swearing during a public interview.
However, Busch’s talent won him a seat at another one-car team at Furniture Row Racing for 2013 (source: WSYR). With a new determination to prove he deserved a quality ride, Kurt and Furniture Row have had what best can be described as a phenomenal year. Now it’s becoming clear that he has turned over a new leaf and with that, has turned out to be a hot commodity. It’s rumored that Busch has received offers from teams like Earnhardt Ganassi who is parting ways with Juan Pablo Montoya and RCR which is trying to replace Harvick, all the while looking for sponsorship.
Kurt Busch hasn’t won a race this season but six top fives, over 300 laps led and currently sitting ninth overall in the Chase has at least momentarily made him a top Cup prospect for 2014. His interviews haven’t been as curt, if you will, as they’ve been in the past. Kurt’s newest attitude is more about how to get faster on the track without blaming someone else with terse and sometimes boorish remarks.
Underdog to big dog?
Busch gives the impression that he’s enjoying the underdog role at Furniture Row, which is based in Colorado and not the Charlotte area where almost every other team is located. Yet, it begs the question as to whether he will personally benefit from being with a large North Carolina based organization again, just as he was with Roush and then Penske through the first dozen years of his career.
The idea that a fourth car is available at SHR is also curious since the team doesn’t even have sponsorship fully contained for Harvick in 2014. Plus, Ryan Newman is their driver right now, so why let him go, but then make concessions for Busch? Sponsorship is said to be coming from Tony’s partner, Gene Haas, through his Haas Automation – one of the largest CNC builders in the world. It’s also possible that the SHR organization has found additional marketing partners; or perhaps, Busch has found some funding on his own. There’s been no confirmation yet on any of these reports but obviously when the two main sources of the information are FOX and ESPN (see both sources below), then there’s merit to the story.
These are surprising developments and makes a fan wonder. What do you think?