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The car that Kurt Busch didn’t get with his new contract

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DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – Anyone can relate to haggling over the price of a showroom car, but there was more than just a new set of shiny wheels at stake for Kurt Busch.

Trying to secure the rights to his winning Ford in the 59th Daytona 500 was one of the snags in his contract talks with Stewart-Haas Racing last year.

“That was one my No. 1 objectives,” Busch said during a taping last month of the NASCAR on NBC podcast. “They’re like, ‘No we’re going to keep it.’ Well, can I have visitation rights with it? Literally, that was a sticking point for a while, but we worked it all out.”

It didn’t work out exactly as planned for the 2004 series champion, who told reporters this past weekend that his No. 41 would remain with the team after it’s rolled out of a yearlong residency Monday at Daytona International Speedway.

“The team is the one that has the rights to the car,” Busch said. “It will be pushed into the front lobby area of Stewart-Haas and go right along with (Kevin) Harvick and (Tony) Stewart’s championship cars. It is special to have a car like that. We will see. Hopefully we will push another one in there next Monday.”

Busch’s re-signing of a one-year deal with Stewart-Haas Racing was announced in December, four months after the team had declined to pick up its 2018 option on the driver. Despite being an impending free agent, Busch said he and SHR had a good-faith negotiation that had him confident about returning.

“I think it was like a chess game in a certain way,” Busch said on the podcast. “The team wanted to get things done their way. I wanted to get things done my way, and we just had to give and take. The two sides always agreed we were going to work out, I just had some objectives that I was really firm about.”

A key part of the deal for Busch was staying with Ford, which was the make he drove for his first five seasons in NASCAR’s premier series. The Las Vegas native, who is entering his 18th season in Cup, hinted at having sports car aspirations after NASCAR with Ford, including racing the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

“At the end of the day, I was hopeful to have a long-term contract because with Ford I know there’s more on the horizon with the new car that they’re designing right now, and I wanted to be part of that,” he said. “Because over the years, Ford has always felt like family and that’s always felt like home. I still feel there’s more to do at Ford Racing.

“NASCAR is my priority. But Ford is involved in all forms of different motorsports, and we’ll see how it all shakes out.”

During the podcast, Busch also discussed:

–His memories of winning Daytona 500 and the postrace celebration with Rob Gronkowski;

–His days of sneaking into short tracks in the Southwest Tour Series;

–Handling statistical analytics for his wife’s polo team;

–Reflecting on being the last active driver to have raced against Dale Earnhardt in the Daytona 500 (his final start in 2001).

The new episode will be available early Wednesday a.m. Subscribe to the NASCAR on NBC Podcast wherever you get your podcasts to receive free downloads automatically.

NASCAR America: An emotional end to 2018 for Martin Truex Jr.

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The 2018 season was an emotional one for Martin Truex Jr.

Last year’s championship was a fairy tale for a team located in Denver, Colorado – far from NASCAR’s epicenter in North Carolina.

This season was much different. Furniture Row Racing found out midseason that its primary sponsor would not return after this year, which caused car owner Barney Visser to decide to shut down the team after the final race.

With that looming closure came the inevitable questions of if the No. 78 team would lose focus.

MORE: What went wrong for Kyle Busch in Miami?
MORE: Kevin Harvick failed to keep up with Miami

Then came late-race incidents at the Charlotte Roval and Martinsville when Truex was knocked out of the lead on the final corner by Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano respectively. 

“They just didn’t have that short run speed to beat the 22 (of Logano at Miami), but they put up a heck of a fight,” NASCAR America analyst Parker Kligerman said on Monday’s edition of the show. “They did all of this under the cloud of knowing that that organization was shutting down at the end of this last race.”

For more, watch the video above.

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NASCAR America: Kevin Harvick’s team failed to keep up with Miami

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Under NASCAR’s current playoff format winning the most races means a lot. It doesn’t win the championship, however, unless one of those victories comes in the season finale.

After the race in Miami, Kevin Harvick was not ready to call his season a failure. He won eight times during the year, tying him for the lead with Kyle Busch. But he was noticeably disappointed by coming up two positions short of claiming his second Cup. Harvick finished behind the 2018 champion Joey Logano and last year’s champion Martin Truex Jr.

“When I look at the 4 team through the whole weekend, they just seemed a little bit off,” Parker Kligerman said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “You look at qualifying, it didn’t go well. And then Saturday practice, they had a short run to start off the first practice because he wasn’t happy with the car. He wasn’t able to find the feel in the car. It just seemed like they were searching a little bit.”

MORE: What went wrong for Kyle Busch in Miami?

Harvick started the race strong, moving up to the lead on Lap 43 after starting 12th. He won the first stage. When the field pitted, the team did not make any significant changes to the car and Harvick was never quite the same.

Jeff Burton said that indicates the team failed to adjust to the changing characteristics of the track.

“In this kind of race when it all comes down to one race and you just get off that little bit at the wrong time, there’s no time to recover,” Burton said.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America: What went wrong for Kyle Busch in Miami?

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Kyle Busch was one of the dominant drivers of the season with eight wins during the season to his credit and an incredible number of bonus points as the playoffs began. Two of his wins came during the playoffs, which led many to consider him one of the co-favorites to win the championship along with Kevin Harvick.

Instead, Busch finished a distant fourth in the race and the championship.

“There was nothing in the 18 car that was magical,” Steve Letarte said on Monday’s edition of NASCAR America. “The 4 (of Harvick) when they dropped the green drove right to the front. … The 22 (of Joey Logano) at times, you said ‘he’s got great short run speed; if it comes down to a short run, he should be good.’ The 78 (of Martin Truex Jr.) had great long run speed. The 18 had none of the above.”

Busch was forced to gamble in the championship race to simply have a shot at winning. Staying out longer than most of the competition, he entered the pits on Lap 248 as the leader and rolled off pit road as the leader. When the green flag waved on Lap 253, he fell back quickly.

“(Busch) wasn’t better in any category,” Letarte added. “And that’s what really surprised me: A team that didn’t have a lot of weaknesses coming into the race really raced with nothing but weaknesses. Average pit crew, average speed, I think decent pit calls by Adam Stevens was the only thing that kept them in the picture for that last restart.”

Letarte went on to describe what he was watching in the final laps. While Logano drove to the front, Busch fell four seconds off the pace.

For more, watch the video above.

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Breaking down Joey Logano’s championship

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Today’s NASCAR America breaks down Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick‘s championships plus the best moments from the 2018 season.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut. They are joined by Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte in the Charlotte studio.

On today’s show:

  • Coming off the heels of a memorable Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, we’ll recap Sunday’s thrilling season finale that saw Joey Logano become the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion. We’ll break down the key points of the race and get reaction from Logano and team owner Roger Penske.
  • We’ll hear from Championship runner-up Martin Truex Jr., who finished second at Miami in his final start with Furniture Row Racing.
  • Take a look at Tyler Reddick’s championship performance in Saturday’s Xfinity Series finale and what it means for his career going forward.
  • And we’ll look back at some of the best moments from the 2018 NASCAR season.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.