Cup

Kurt Busch’s contract won’t be renewed by Stewart-Haas Racing (video)

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Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch will become the latest NASCAR star on the free agent market.

Stewart-Haas Racing informed the No. 41 Ford driver that it wouldn’t be picking up his option for next season, a source with knowledge of the negotiations told NBC Sports. The source spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.

The team had until midnight today to pick up the option after which Busch would be permitted to negotiate with other teams about a ride for 2018. It also is possible Busch still could return to Stewart-Haas Racing by signing a new contract.

The team still is awaiting word on the status of Monster, which has been a primary sponsor on Busch’s car the past two seasons. The energy drink company is weighing its future as the title sponsor of NASCAR’s premier series (it must decide by this year whether to pick up a two-year option for 2019-20) and as a team sponsor.

Busch had expressed optimism at Daytona International Speedway that he would return to the team, which he joined in 2014 after a one-season stint with Furniture Row Racing.

I don’t have any worries,’’ Busch said June 29. “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 and how I’ve blended in with this team. I feel great.’’

Busch joins Matt Kenseth as a former NASCAR Cup Series champion who doesn’t have a confirmed ride for next season.

Stewart-Haas Racing declined comment on the story. The team sent a tweet about Busch’s future.

NASCAR announces 2018 schedules for Cup, Xfinity, Camping World Trucks

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NASCAR announced the 2018 schedules for its three national series and they include significant changes in Cup.

The season will begin with the Clash and Daytona 500 qualifying taking place on Feb. 11. Previously, those events were held on separate dates. The Clash moves to from a Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. Daytona 500 qualifying will precede it.

The Daytona 500 moves to Feb. 18 – its earliest date since 2010.

The Richmond spring race moves back to a Saturday night race after having been run on Sunday this year.

The playoffs will see a big change.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway will host the cutoff race for the playoffs on Sept. 9. The playoffs will open Sept. 16 at Las Vegas. Richmond, which had been the cutoff race since 2004, moves into the playoffs and will be on Sept. 22, a Saturday night. The first round ends Sept. 30 at Charlotte on the track’s oval and infield road course. Dover moves to the first race in the second round. The final six races of the playoffs remain unchanged from this year.

2018 MONSTER ENERGY NASCAR CUP SERIES SCHEDULE

Date                 Site

2/11                  Daytona International Speedway (Clash / Daytona 500 Qualifying)

2/15                  Daytona International Speedway (Duel)

2/18                  Daytona 500

2/25                  Atlanta Motor Speedway

3/4                    Las Vegas Motor Speedway

3/11                  Phoenix International Raceway

3/18                  Auto Club Speedway

3/25                  Martinsville Speedway

4/8                    Texas Motor Speedway

4/15                  Bristol Motor Speedway

4/21                  Richmond International Raceway

4/29                  Talladega Superspeedway

5/6                    Dover International Speedway

5/12                  Kansas Speedway

5/19                  Charlotte Motor Speedway (Monster Energy All-Star Race)

5/27                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

6/3                    Pocono Raceway

6/10                  Michigan International Speedway

6/24                  Sonoma Raceway

7/1                    Chicagoland Speedway

7/7                    Daytona International Speedway

7/14                  Kentucky Speedway

7/22                  New Hampshire Motor Speedway

7/29                  Pocono Raceway

8/5                    Watkins Glen International

8/12                  Michigan International Speedway

8/18                  Bristol Motor Speedway

9/2                    Darlington Raceway

9/9                    Indianapolis Motor Speedway

9/16                  Las Vegas Motor Speedway

9/22                  Richmond International Raceway

9/30                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

10/7                  Dover International Speedway

10/14                Talladega Superspeedway

10/21                Kansas Speedway

10/28                Martinsville Speedway

11/4                  Texas Motor Speedway

11/11                Phoenix International Raceway

11/18                Homestead-Miami Speedway

  

2018 NASCAR XFINITY SERIES SCHEDULE

Date                 Site

2/17                  Daytona International Speedway

2/24                  Atlanta Motor Speedway

3/3                    Las Vegas Motor Speedway

3/10                  Phoenix International Raceway

3/17                  Auto Club Speedway

4/7                    Texas Motor Speedway

4/14                  Bristol Motor Speedway

4/20                  Richmond International Raceway

4/28                  Talladega Superspeedway

5/5                    Dover International Speedway

5/26                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

6/2                    Pocono Raceway

6/9                    Michigan International Speedway

6/17                  Iowa Speedway

6/30                  Chicagoland Speedway

7/6                    Daytona International Speedway

7/13                  Kentucky Speedway

7/21                  New Hampshire Motor Speedway

7/28                  Iowa Speedway

8/4                    Watkins Glen International

8/11                  Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course

8/17                  Bristol Motor Speedway

8/25                  Road America

9/1                    Darlington Raceway

9/8                    Indianapolis Motor Speedway

9/15                  Las Vegas Motor Speedway

9/21                  Richmond International Raceway

9/29                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

10/6                  Dover International Speedway

10/20                Kansas Speedway

11/3                  Texas Motor Speedway

11/10                Phoenix International Raceway

11/17                Homestead-Miami Speedway

  

2018 NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES SCHEDULE 

Date                 Site

2/16                  Daytona International Speedway

2/24                  Atlanta Motor Speedway

3/2                    Las Vegas Motor Speedway

3/24                  Martinsville Speedway

5/4                    Dover International Speedway

5/11                  Kansas Speedway

5/18                  Charlotte Motor Speedway

6/8                    Texas Motor Speedway

6/16                  Iowa Speedway

6/23                  Gateway Motorsports Park

6/29                  Chicagoland Speedway

7/12                  Kentucky Speedway

7/18                  Eldora Speedway

7/28                  Pocono Raceway                     

8/11                  Michigan International Speedway

8/15                  Bristol Motor Speedway

8/26                  Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

9/14                  Las Vegas Motor Speedway

10/13                Talladega Superspeedway

10/27                Martinsville Speedway

11/2                  Texas Motor Speedway

11/9                  Phoenix International Raceway

11/16                Homestead-Miami Speedway