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NASCAR Cup: Kurt Busch’s future with Stewart-Haas Racing questioned

Kurt Busch (left) and crew chief Tony Gibson (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Kurt Busch (left) and crew chief Tony Gibson (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Kurt Busch’s future with Stewart-Haas Racing seems to be up in the air beyond the 2017 season.

Multiple published reports from news outlets including Motorsport.com and NBC Sports have Busch out at SHR at season’s end. Both outlets have reporting that, according to a trusted source speaking under a condition of anonymity, the race team has informed the driver that it was declining the option in his contract.

Stewart-Haas Racing has until midnight Tuesday to reverse its decision, is that’s when the option in the contract is set to expire. At the least, Busch is expected to finish the year behind the wheel of SHR’s No. 41 Ford in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

According to a tweet from the race team on Tuesday, though, Busch is expected to remain with the team next year.

“We don’t comment on contract status, but we expect @KurtBusch back in our @MonsterEnergy / @Haas_Automation Ford in ’18. Just sayin’,” read the tweet from Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng).”

NASCAR writer Jeff Gluck published his take on the, seemingly, conflicting story on his own website (JeffGluck.com). According to Gluck, the possibility exists that Stewart-Haas Racing may let its contract option with Busch expire, even if Busch is still wanted by the team, with the hopes it can negotiate new terms with the 2004 premier series champion.

Busch’s future with Stewart-Haas Racing may be reliant upon a new sponsorship agreement with Mosnter or a new sponsor. The contract between the race team and primary sponsor Monster Energy, also the title sponsor of the Cup Series, as of 2017, also is set to expire at the end of the current season. The race team may need to negotiate a different deal with Busch based on new terms with Monster or a new sponsor. The race team may not be able to pick up the option of Busch’s contract by the deadline because of ongoing sponsor negotiations.

“I don’t have any worries,” Busch said at Daytona (Fla.) International speedway in late June. “I know that I deliver for the team. Our performance level is one that shouldn’t be in question. Winning the Daytona 500 is special, but performing week in and week out, the deliverables that I bring sponsorship-wise that comes into play. I know that they’re working with NASCAR. Monster Energy is trying to sort out issues with NASCAR, so there are a lot of moving parts, but I don’t feel any fear whatsoever. I actually feel very confident in the sponsorship that I bring, Ford Performance’s involvement with Stewart-Haas Racing and how I’ve blended in with this team. I feel great.”

Busch has been with Stewart-Haas Racing since 2014 after driving for teams including Roush Fenway Racing, Team Penske, Phoenix Racing and Furniture Row Racing. He has one win this year, coming in the season-opening Daytona 500 in February. He has five wins, so far, in his four years at SHR, winning at least one race east season. Busch won two races from behind the wheel of the No. 41 in 2015.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (Facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (Facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on August 1, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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