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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.

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kyle Busch ends the season No. 1

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The 2019 season is over and Kyle Busch is the NASCAR Cup champion. And not surprisingly, the younger Busch brother also ends the season as No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings.

Busch received 39 of 40 possible points to take the No. 1 spot, followed by the other three Championship 4 contenders: Martin Truex Jr. (35 points), and Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick (tied for third place with 28 points each).

The biggest surprises in this week’s standings were Xfinity Series champ Tyler Reddick in fifth and Gander Outdoors Truck Series champ Matt Crafton in sixth.

Here’s this week’s Power Rankings:

1. Kyle Busch (39 points): Finally gets that second title. Last week: Second.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (35 points): Inexcusable pit mistake left him as the championship runner-up for the second year in a row. Last week: Fourth.

(tie) 3. Denny Hamlin (28 points): Came so close to his first championship, only to be fall short yet again. Could this be the closest he’ll get? Last week: First.

(tie) 3. Kevin Harvick (28 points): Needed a bit more help than he got going against the Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut. Still, a very strong season regardless. Last week: Third.

5. Tyler Reddick (18 points): It’s hard enough to win one championship, but back-to-back championships with two different teams? Last week: Unranked.

6. Matt Crafton (14 points): Wins the championship without even winning a race (in fact, his last win was more than two years ago). Thrived on his underdog status. Last week: Unranked.

7. Ryan Blaney (12 points): Finished 11th or better, including a win at Talladega, in five of the last six playoff races. Last week: Fifth.

(tie) 8. Joey Logano (11 points): Ends year with four consecutive top 10s, but he fell short in making it to the championship round and defending last year’s title. Last week: Eighth.

(tie) 8. Erik Jones (11 points): Ends season with four top 10s in last five races. That bodes well for next season. Last week: Seventh.

10. Christopher Bell (6 points): Missed his chance to add an Xfinity title to his Truck championship. Still, with eight wins, had an outstanding season. Up next: a promotion to the Cup Series. Last week: 10th.

Others receiving votes: Kyle Larson (5 points), Clint Bowyer (5 points), Cole Custer (4 points), Austin Hill (2 points), Brad Keselowski (1 point), Brett Moffitt (1 point).

Zane Smith joins GMS Racing for full-time Truck Series ride

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Zane Smith will compete full-time for GMS Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series next year, the team announced Tuesday.

Smith, 20, joins the team after competing part-time with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series this year, where his best result in 10 races was fifth twice.

He will be GMS Racing’s fourth full-time entry next year, joining Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum. Sam Mayer will compete part-time.

Smith will have veteran Kevin “Bono” Manion as his crew chief.

“When I got the offer from Mike Beam asking me to run a truck full-time for GMS Racing, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Smith said in a press release. “GMS is a championship-caliber team and to be a part of an organization like theirs is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with Manion again. He has a lot of experience and I know we will be a great team.”

Manion, who has 24 wins across all three national NASCAR series since 2003, joins GMS Racing after serving as a crew chief for DGR-Crosley in 2019, including working with Rookie of the Year Tyler Ankrum. Manion was crew chief for Smith in 2018 when he made his Truck Series debut at Gateway and finished fifth.

“I am really excited to join GMS Racing and Zane (Smith) for the 2020 season,” Manion said in a press release. “With GMS Racing’s championship caliber equipment and Chevrolet support, we have all the resources to win some races and be in the hunt for the 2020 Championship. I got the opportunity to crew chief Zane (Smith) in his first Gander Trucks start in 2018 at Gateway and we worked really well together. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish next season.”

Sponsorship and an assigned truck number for Smith will be announced at a later date.

Penalty report from Homestead-Miami Speedway

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NASCAR issued four fines and one suspension for lug nut violations during its championship weekend in Miami.

Cup Series

Mike Wheeler, crew crew chief on Matt DiBenedetto‘s No. 95 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

Xfinity Series

Mike Shiplett, crew chief on Cole Custer‘s No. 00 Ford, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

Truck Series

Steve Lane, the owner of On Point Motorsports and crew chief on Danny Bohn‘s No. 30 Toyota, was fined $5,000 and suspended one points race for two unsecured lug nuts. The No. 30 truck competed part-time this season and made 16 starts. The team told NBC Sports it will not appeal the penalty.

Trip Bruce III, crew chief on Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet, was fined $2,500 for one unsecured lug nut.

Other

NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension to Jeffrey Schmidt for violating its substance abuse policy.

Truck Series gets minor name change for 2020

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Four days after the end of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, NASCAR announced the series will receive a minor name change for the 2020 season.

The series will be called the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series when the season starts in February at Daytona International Speedway.

This is the second name change for the series in two years.

This season saw the name change from the Camping World Truck Series, which had been the title from 2009-2018.

Gander Outdoors and Camping World are owned by the same company.

Next year will also see a different name for the Cup Series. With the series going to a new sponsorship model, it will simply be called the NASCAR Cup Series.