What is going on with Kurt Busch?
On Tuesday, there were numerous media reports that Stewart-Hass racing wouldn't pick up the NASCAR champ's contract, and he became a free agent eligible to sign with another team effective 12:01 a.m. today. This for a driver who won the 2017 Daytona 500 and has a guaranteed playoff berth.
Busch himself expressed confidence back in June, when he said:
"I don't have any worries. I know that I deliver for the team. Our performance level is one that shouldn't be in question, winning the Daytona 500 is special, but performing week in and week out, the deliverables that I bring sponsorship-wise that comes into play. [...] I don't feel any fear whatsoever. I actually feel very confident in the sponsorship that I bring, Ford Performance's involvement with Stewart-Haas and how I've blended in with this team. I feel great.''
But this is where the confusion comes in. Stewart-Hass Racing, after the contract reports, tweeted hat they expect Busch to be back.
So which is it? Is Busch out? Is Stewart-Haas trying to negotiate a contract extension?
Maybe, depending on its sponsorship talks with Monster, the energy drink company. Monster has been the primary sponsor of Busch's car the last two seasons and, according to NBC Sports, is weighing its future with NASCAR.
His teammate, Kevin Harvick, who drive the No. 4, chalked up the situation to negotiations.
"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," he said on SIRUS XM. "But I can tell you from a team standpoint, Kurt Busch can drive the heck out of a race car." Harvick added, "I have a hard time buying in that they're just going to boot him out the door.
Busch, the 2004 Cup Series champion, joins Matt Kenseth as former champions without a contract moving forward.
The move could end a three year partnership with the team.