Several major news organizations that cover NASCAR on a regular basis are reporting that Kurt Busch won’t be back for the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. I have heard that this could be a potential move for the last few months now too. With Monster Energy already sponsoring the series as a title sponsor, they were contemplating a move to just doing that.
SHR held the options for both Busch and Danica Patrick for 2018 and the rumor was they may not retain either. But, nothing was concrete. Both drivers have said that they’ve heard the same things and that their future with the team wasn’t in their hands.
But, since those reports came out, SHR tweeted a statement saying, “We don’t comment on contract status, but we expect @KurtBusch back in our @MonsterEnergy / @Haas_Automation Ford in ’18. Just sayin’.”
So, is he in or is he out?
Right now, he’s out.
Busch’s contract option for 2018 was due to be picked up by midnight on August 1. It’s now August 2 and SHR didn’t announce from midnight until now that they have picked up Busch’s option for next season. Translation?
He’s currently a free agent.
Busch joins Matt Kenseth as free agent drivers right now. As stated earlier too, Patrick could be too. Also, Kasey Kahne may be headed that way as well to have a star studded free agent field. The only problem is, there’s not many options for any of them to go.
I don’t see Kenseth or Busch going to Hendrick to replace Kahne IF he’s available, which I’m hearing he still may be let go. I don’t see any of the above going to Richard Childress Racing. Furniture Row Racing would be attractive for any of the three, but Kenseth would have already been told he’s in the mix with them if he was. Busch, used to run for them before joining SHR, would he go back?
The other option is, SHR could have purposely let Busch’s option for next year run out and then try to renegotiate with him for the future. Without the comfort of knowing whether Monster Energy will be back or not, they can’t pay Busch his owed base salary for 2018, hence not picking up his option. But, they can let him look elsewhere seeing if he can get something worth his value, or offer him what they can right now and see if anyone beats it.
Then, if Monster or another sponsor comes to SHR in the process, they could then after that up their offer to Busch if needed. That’s why they had to make this business move and see what how the chips fall.
I would suspect SHR will offer Busch a contract for what they can afford. It’s then up to Busch to sign it, or look elsewhere. With this move, he’s obviously looking elsewhere. If Busch gets offered a contract more than what SHR can offer, he has to weigh his options on if that car is a contender, or he could take less money to drive for a team that he can win races and championships with. That’s his move.
That’s why Busch is technically now a free agent. It doesn’t necessarily mean he will be driving for anyone else next year. He could sign a new deal with SHR in the meantime.