SHR co-owner Gene Haas and General Manager Joe Custer offered the 2004 Sprint Cup Series champion a 2014 contract recently, with the offer now resting in the hands of Busch’s attorneys. Tony Stewart and Director of Competition Greg Zipadelli have consistently ruled out the possibility of adding an additional car for 2014, with Stewart insisting as recently as last month, “We are not ready to expand to a fourth team.”
Sources tell GodfatherMotorsports.com that Haas and Custer brokered the deal on behalf of SHR, and that Stewart may not have known of the offer until it was already on the table. The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion continues to recuperate from a compound fracture of his right tibia and fibula suffered in a Sprint Car crash on August 5.
Custer declined to comment today, saying, “We are not confirming that. We are looking at all options, so it’s too early to go out into the media.”
Zipadelli told MotorRacingNetwork.com reporter Dustin Long yesterday, “Stewart-Haas Racing constantly strives to improve itself, and expansion is something that is often discussed. If the right opportunity presents itself, it's something the team will certainly consider."
Sources close to the team say Stewart, Danica Patrick and new 2014 driver Kevin Harvick all have only partial sponsorship in place for next season, and that Busch’s fourth entry would likely be funded largely by Haas. The SHR co-owner is founder, president, and sole stockholder of Haas Automation, one of the world's largest CNC machine tool manufacturers, in addition to being the sole owner of the Wind Shear rolling-road wind tunnel in Concord, NC. Haas Automation has served as primary sponsor of Newman’s No. 39 Chevrolet in a number of races this season.
Busch is currently ninth in Sprint Cup Series championship points driving for Furniture Row Racing, a team that has never finished better than 24th in its nine-year Sprint Cup Series history. The 2004 series champion is a 24-time winner on NASCAR’s premiere circuit, as has made major strides in resurrecting a career that previously included equal doses of success and controversy.
“The focus is making the Chase,” said Busch last week. “We have four weeks to go, and we’re in great position. Phone calls (from other teams) have happened, but nothing’s going to change. We’re still really focused on the Chase and what we can do together.”