BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kurt Busch, whose contract with Stewart-Haas Racing expires after 2018, confirmed he has explored other opportunities but denied signing a deal beyond this season.
“I’m talking to a bunch of teams out there,” he said. “There’s nothing that’s been signed and whatever has been reported is all hearsay.”
There were two reports Friday linking Busch to Jamie McMurray’s No. 1 Chevrolet at Chip Ganassi Racing. One said Ganassi could keep McMurray next year, while another said Busch would leave Stewart-Haas for Ganassi with primary sponsor Monster Energy.
Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas was asked about the report after Busch qualified 12th Friday. Haas said Busch’s return to the No. 41 Ford is possible, adding he believes Busch wants 2019 to be his last year in Cup “but obviously moving to another team is a learning process.
“I think everything is pretty straightforward about what would be best for everybody, but sometimes it takes a little while,” Haas said, adding he hasn’t been told Monster, which is exiting as NASCAR’s title sponsor in 2019, is leaving his team nor been given a timeframe for the company deciding on next year.
“Monster doesn’t really have deadlines,” said Haas, who does intend to field four cars in ‘19.
Last year, it took until December for Busch to re-sign a one-year deal after SHR declined to pick up his option in August. Busch said then that he also was exploring rides with other teams (and had offers).
Asked for a timeframe on signing Busch for next year, Haas asked, “When’s Daytona?”
Busch has said this year that his relationship with Ford is critical and has hinted that he might want to move to sports cars after his NASCAR career ends. Stewart-Haas Racing fields Fords in NASCAR. Ganassi has a Ford-powered sports car team.
Asked to comment on the reports after qualifying, McMurray said “I don’t talk about contracts.” Asked if he would return to Ganassi, he replied, “I just don’t discuss any of that kind of stuff.”