Multiple Reports Put NASCAR Champ Kurt Busch at Chip Ganassi Racing Next Year
Kurt Busch may replace Jamie McMurray behind the No. 1 NASCAR entry in 2019.
Kurt Busch’s current contract with Stewart-Haas Racing that puts the driver behind the wheel of the No. 41 Ford in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series expires at the end of the 2018 season. Since the Aug. 10 to Aug. 12 race weekend at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn that culminated in the Aug. 12 running of the Consumers Energy 400, multiple published reports have Busch leaving SHR at year’s end to drive the No. 1 Chevrolet in place of Jamie McMurray at Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019.
Motorsport.com was the first to report the move. None of the parties involved will confirm or deny the move.
“Stewart-Haas Racing does not comment on the status of its contracts, be it driver or partner related. We appreciate your understanding,” a statement from Stewart-Haas Racing read.
Last month though, SHR reportedly sang a different tune, saying that its four-driver stable of Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Busch would stay intact.
If Busch leaves SHR sat season’s end, sponsor Monster Energy would likely go with him.
Busch’s previous contract with SHR expired at the end of the 2017 Cup Series season. That contract contained an option for an extension, but the team didn’t pick up that option, instead opting to negotiate a new contract with Busch.
Stewart-Haas co-owner Gene Haas was asked during the Michigan weekend about Busch’s status with his team.
"I really don't have comment, because I haven't seen anything one way or the other,” Haas said.
Busch, meanwhile, says he is exploring his options with a part of that exploration being discussions with multiple teams.
“I’m talking to a bunch of teams out there,” Busch told NBC Sports. “There’s nothing that’s been signed and whatever has been reported is all hearsay.”
McMurray is also remaining mum on the possibility of being replaced by Busch at CGR next year.
“I don’t talk about contracts,” McMurray said. “I just don’t discuss any of that kind of stuff.”
Busch, the 2004 Cup Series champion, has been the driver of the No. 41 at Stewart-Haas Racing since 2014. Five of his 29-career Cup Series wins have come since then. He previously drove for teams including Roush Fenway Racing, Team Penske, the now-defunct Phoenix Racing and Furniture Row Racing. He is winless in the first 23 races of the 2018 season and his fourth in the points standings. His most recent win came in the 2017 season-opening Daytona 500. Stewart-Haas Racing has nine wins, so far, this season — a series-leading seven from Harvick, including Sunday’s Michigan race, and two from Bowyer.
McMurray is in his second stint with the Chip Ganassi-owned race team. He began his Cup Series career with Ganassi part-time in 2002, going full-time there the following year. After 2005, he moved to Roush Fenway Racing but reunited with Ganassi in 2010. Five of McMurray’s seven-career wins, to date, have come with Ganassi, including three in his first year back with the team. He last won in 2013 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. McMurray is 22nd in the Cup Series standings heading into the final three races of the 2018 regular season.