Kurt Busch mulling contract offers for 2019

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DARLINGTON, S.C. — Kurt Busch said Friday he has received two contract offers for next season but has not made a decision on where he will race.

The 2004 Cup champion’s contract with Stewart-Haas Racing expires after this season.

Busch did not say what teams have offered him contracts.

“It’s kind of the same thing as last year where the team at Stewart-Haas put me into free agency, it gives me the opportunity to talk to others,” Busch said at Darlington Raceway. “I do have the loyalty and the respect from Monster Energy.

“As the sport evolves and the sport changes, it’s unique for me to understand more about the ownership side and how the different structures are set up. No updates. Just more information for me to digest. We’ll announce things when they get closer.”

Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio after Busch won at Bristol two weeks ago that he was not sure where Busch would race in 2019.

“I really think you need to talk to Kurt Busch and Chip Ganassi and Jamie McMurray. I think they know more than we do,” Haas told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, referring to reports that Busch would leave Stewart-Haas Racing for Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 1 car next year.

Busch could be among multiple former Cup champions changing teams after this season. That last happened prior to the 2009 season when former Cup champions Tony Stewart (Joe Gibbs Racing to what would become Stewart-Haas Racing) and Bobby Labonte (Petty Enterprises to Hall of Fame Racing, changed teams.

Questions have circulated in the garage about what Furniture Row Racing and reigning champion Martin Truex Jr. will do after losing 5-hour Energy as a sponsor after this season. Questions remain despite car owner Barney Visser issuing a statement Aug. 8 that “not fielding a team in 2019 is not an option.” 5-hour Energy will be a co-primary sponsor on the car for 30 races this season, including this weekend.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin was asked Friday how it would impact JGR if it didn’t have ties to Furniture Row Racing after this season.

“I don’t know how it would directly impact us,” Hamlin said. “They definitely bring some information to the table, like I said, for us on any given weekend and we share that information back with them, but we’ve been a four-car operation for a long time now and we just started the fifth here just a few years ago. I don’t know that it would make a huge impact one way or another, but certainly they’ve been really good partners of ours for the last few years.”

Busch, who drove for Furniture Row Racing late in the 2012 season and all of 2013, was asked Friday what it would mean to the sport if there wasn’t a Furniture Row Racing next season.

“That’s a heavy question,” Busch said. “It’s a loaded question because they’re the current defending championship team. For anybody to come in and buy that program right now, you’re going to have instant success and the parts and pieces and the people that they have have made that place as successful as it is and that comes through Barney Visser and his commitment to motorsports. 

“I think things will work out. It’s, again, a tough time in our sport with sponsorship and the way that corporate America and sponsorships are valuing our sport and so when that is cut back from a team owner, the team owner is like wait a minute I just put a decade into developing this team and I want it to run on its own and now it can’t? Barney’s heart will step back in. I don’t see them changing much for 2019, but I could be wrong.”

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