Kurt Busch still waiting for word from Stewart-Haas Racing

Photo by Jerry Jordan/Kickin' the Tires

By Jerry Jordan, Editor
AVONDALE, Ariz. – With just eight days remaining in the 2017 Monster Energy Series NASCAR Cup Season, Kurt Busch still does not have a signed deal to drive in 2018 despite.

That is despite Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) announcing other major news, including Aric Almirola for the No. 10 and an Xfinity Series alliance with Biagi-DenBeste Racing. So, what about the reigning Daytona 500 winner and the 2004 Cup Series champion?

SHR representatives say a deal is in the works and that it is just a matter of time but blame is being assessed on “negotiations” and the “business” of the sport. Haas’s personal business is a partial sponsor of the No. 41 car, however, Busch has a personal and professional relationship with Monster Energy. Additionally, Bush has another potential sponsor in the works which should be announced some time after a deal is reached with the team.

A key holdup is that Busch is being asked to take a significant pay cut despite bringing financial support to the team.

“It’s just kind of part of the negotiations, obviously, it would be better to solidify that and I think we will in the next few weeks,” Haas told Kickin’ the Tires before last week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. “Umm, the whole problem with the sport is there is just less revenue coming in and these adjustments are kind of painful on everybody.”

When asked about a pay cut for Busch, Haas said it was more than just a dollar figure holding things up. He also said the team is concerned that sponsors might leave at the end of their contracts and that could put things in a bind. Asked specifically if he was worried about Monster Energy pulling and Haas said no.

“You know, it’s just part of the contract negotiations, they are a lot more complicated than just a pay number,” Haas said. “No, but we have contracts and we assume at the end of the contract that unless they start talking to us early, they could pull just at the end of their contract. You know, past the contract there is nothing.

“We’re very, very happy with Monster. I think Monster is a great sponsor for this sport but obviously they have a different, umm, they have their own agenda in terms of how much they want to pay.”

Since Haas is a sponsor of the No. 41 car, he said his company pays the same share as Monster and it appeared he was on-board to continue that financial support. Although he wished Busch has made it further in NASCAR’s Playoffs and was competing next week for a championship, he conceded that winning the Daytona 500 made it worth being on the track.

“Keep in mind that every race is sold for a price so Haas pays the same amount as Monster does,” Haas said. “Whatever number of races Monster gets, Haas gets that for a comparable amount of money.

“I think it was outstanding to win Daytona. That certainly made, I think even having the 41 car exist – that pushed that one over the goal line. I really hoped it would be a Chase (Playoff) contender every year but now that we have missed it for two years, I am a little disappointed in that but that is racing.”

Haas also owns a Formula 1 team and has been devoting a lot of his time supporting that operation, which includes significant international travel and time away from the team’s headquarters in Kannapolis, North Carolina. He admitted he wasn’t 100 percent sure on what would go down regarding this past week’s signing of Aric Almirola and Smithfield Foods other than to say the reports were “probably accurate” prior to the press conference.

Kickin’ the Tires can report that Haas and team general manager Joe Custer have had discussions over why a deal for Busch has not yet been finalized. Following the race at Texas Motor Speedway, the team’s other co-owner, Tony Stewart, said he expected a deal soon, as well.

Reached for comment for his side of the situation, Busch would only say that he was “in negotiations.”


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