The racing world was abuzz Tuesday amid reports that Stewart Haas racing wouldn’t pick up NASCAR champ Kurt Busch’s contract.
Busch became a free agent, eligible to sign with another team, effective 12:01 a.m. today. Busch, remember, won the 2017 Daytona 500 and has a guaranteed playoff berth.
His teammate, Kevin Harvick, who drives the No. 4, weighed in, and believes Busch will be back, driving his No. 41.
Harvick attributes the contract to simple business, noting that sponsors have to be lined up and the drivers and their teams have to negotiate a new agreement. In his remarks on SIRUS XM radio, he said the business side is one drivers would rather avoid, but can’t. Here’s a transcript of his remarks, taken from the YouTube video below:
I think this might be of of those situations where you get to the end of a contract and you have to negotiate what’s going to happen going forward. And it doesn’t mean the relationship is over. It’s not necessarily because they’re out, it’s because you have to negotiate. It’s also a business. This isn’t about, ‘his guy’s in,’ ‘this guy’s out,’ this is about a business trying to … move forward and decide, ‘OK, we’re going to have this much sponsorship, or we’re going to have this much sponsorship.’ In order to do that, you have to negotiate things and you have to do this part of the sport, which none of like to do, but, there’s a negotiation period that happens between the driver and his representation and the team and what they think they can pay. There’s not anybody who knows what’s going on other than three or four people at Stewart Haas Racing and Kurt and his team that have everything going on their side. But I can tell you from a team standpoint, Kurt Busch can drive the heck out of a race car, he brings a lot to the table from a driver’s standpoint, as to what he feels in the car, and the things that he does in the car, and he’s a champion of the sport, he won the Daytona 500 this year, so, I have a hard time buying in that they’re just going to boot him out the door because I think there’s a lot going on in a lot of different places.
The sponsorship issue is a salient point. Monster, the energy drink company has been the primary sponsor of Busch’s car the last two seasons and, according to NBC Sports, is weighing its future with NASCAR. So, that’s up in the air.
For it’s part, Stewart Haas has already said it expects Busch back.