Kurt Busch bringing Monster Energy to Chip Ganassi Racing

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By Jerry Jordan, Editor

Months’ worth of speculation came to a head Sunday night as all of Kurt Busch’s social media accounts simultaneously saw his profile image go dark with a cloud of smoke rising in the background – it was the final step in his departure from Stewart-Haas Racing and his first step to a new beginning with Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I am tremendously proud to be joining Chip Ganassi Racing and the prestigious group of alumni,” Busch said. “Along with Monster Energy, winning races and competing at the highest level, it’s what we are all about. Ganassi’s forward thinking approach is why I have decided to commit all my years of Monster Energy Cup experience to CGR.”

Announced on Instagram, “KB Style,” the new deal inks Busch in the No. 1 car through 2019 and brings Monster Energy with him as sponsor. He will have Matt McCall as his crew chief and Jeff ‘Jazzy’ Curtis, formerly of Furniture Row Racing, as his engineer.

“We have had the good fortune of having a lot of great drivers here at Chip Ganassi Racing across all forms of racing and Kurt Busch adds to that list of great drivers,” said Chip Ganassi. “He is a former NASCAR Cup Series champion and Daytona 500 winner and I believe still has a burning desire to win races and compete for a championship. In addition, getting to work with and represent a brand like Monster Energy makes it even that much more exciting.” 

Busch performed well for SHR and although he never achieved a NASCAR Championship, he was, and still is a marquee driver in the sport with much more to offer racing fans. Joining SHR in 2014 to great fanfare and bringing a new primary car sponsor to the sport in Monster Energy, Busch was a comeback story that can’t be disregarded. Over the next five years he would he would score six wins, 37 Top 5s and 90 Top 10s. Five of his 11 poles came in his final year at SHR and he was named the 2018 Busch Beer Pole Award winner but in addition to those accolades with his three different crew chiefs – Daniel Knost, Tony Gibson and Billy Scott – he was able to lead 1900-plus laps while at SHR.

Gibson reached out to Busch via Twitter shortly after he made it official that he was leaving the organization.

“Proud to have worked with you over the last few years buddy it’s been a blast,” Gibson wrote. “You are a true champion and most of all a great friend. Good luck in your next venture I’m sure it will be filled with lots of checkered flags.”

Hundreds of Busch fans also responded to the tweet, Facebook and Instagram posts.

Busch’s SHR crew speaks highly of him but he and Kevin Harvick had been rivals for years before they joined SHR. Harvick was brought on-board at SHR by co-owner, Tony Stewart, but when team-founder Gene Haas hired Busch the same year there was no doubt the rivalry was still there. Harvick was seen as Stewart’s driver and Busch was Haas’s wheelman. Still, as late as the race in Phoenix at ISM Raceway, there was an offer on the table at SHR but Busch had already given Ganassi his word.

News of the impending move was first reported several months ago, when Motorsport.com‘s Jim Utter posted that Monster Energy and Busch were looking for a new home.

Busch will now return to Chevrolet and call Ganassi home and pilot the Chevrolet Camaro, which is making its sophomore appearance in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

His new teammate, Kyle Larson, wasn’t sure what the scenario was when asked in Las Vegas but the young star may click well with a wily veteran like Busch. For Busch, the move to Ganassi may also give the 40-year-old driver a chance to run some sports car races and maybe even return to the Indy 500. Ganassi’s motorsports reach is well-documented and his IMSA and IndyCar entries are proven winners.

Busch hasn’t raced in a sports car series since 2008, when he finished on the podium in third with the Penske-Taylor team in the Rolex 24 but it is something he has talked about doing again. And his only foray into the IndyCar world saw him start the 2014 Indy 500 in 12th and finish with an impressive sixth place run. It was enough to earn him the honor of being named the 2014 Indy 500 rookie of the year.

Closing out his comments on the new home, which marks the 20th year of his NASCAR career, Busch said, “Let’s win, let’s have fun!”

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