As Kurt Busch goes ahead and makes his move from Phoenix Racing to drive the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series takes to the track at Charlotte Motor Speedway for Saturday night’s Bank of America 500, Regan Smith, the former driver at Furniture Row, will replace Busch in his former ride — the No. 51 Chevrolet at Phoenix Racing.
While Busch is committed to the No. 78 car for the remainder of the season and for 2013, it is unclear how long Smith will drive for Phoenix Racing — whether the arrangement will be just a one race deal, a remainder of the year arrangement, or carry over into 2013.
According to officials at Phoenix Racing, putting Smith in the No. 78 for Charlotte is a tryout, of sorts. The team is still looking for a sponsor for next year, and car owner James Finch, reportedly, doesn’t want to commit to a specific driver for 2013 until sufficient sponsorship is found.
Busch joined Phoenix Racing to drive the No. 51 after leaving Penske Racing at the end of 2012. The car has gone unsponsored for much of the year.
Smith has been racing at the Sprint Cup level since 2007. He posted his lone-career win at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway last year, driving the No. 78.
As far as 2013 goes, Smith has been confirmed to also be on a short list of potential drivers for the Dale Earnhardt Jr.-owned JR Motorsports team in the Nationwide Series.
Smith’s isn’t the only name that has popped up as a potential candidate to drive Finch’s No. 51 next year. Recently reinstated driver A.J. Allmendinger has also, reportedly, talked to the car owner about driving for him next year.
Allmendinger lost his ride at Penske Racing in July, soon after being indefinitely suspended by NASCAR for violation of its substance abuse policy. He has since been reinstated by NASCAR.
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