Grading 2014′s New Driver/ Team Pairings- Part 6

What Kurt Busch and Furniture Row Racing accomplished together in 2013 was nothing short of remarkable.

Two years removed from his epic dismissal from Penske Racing in December 2011, Kurt Busch gradually freed himself from notoriety. Although Busch’s road to redemption hit a few rocky patches on occasion, he managed to rise above the chaos and somehow found solace in Furniture Row Racing. For the first time in a number of years Kurt Busch appeared completely relaxed. All the pressures that go with competing for a highly profiled organization had evaporated. Busch single- handedly turned a struggling single car operation based out of Colorado into a dark horse contender for the NSCS championship. Even though Busch failed to win a race during his time with FRR, he succeeded in attracting positive attention from his peers. In the process Kurt also did a magnificent job of selling Furniture Row Racing to potential free agents looking for a future ride in NSCS competition.

Reports surfaced across social media outlets in mid-August that SHR was in the process of adding a 4th car to their star studded stable for Kurt Busch starting in 2014. Initially team owner Tony Stewart denounced any possibilities of adding a 4th car. Stewart was firm, there would be no additions to SHR primarily due to lack of sponsorship dollars.

Despite Furniture Row Racing’s numerous attempts throughout the summer to resign Kurt Busch to a long term contract, Kurt continued to weigh out all possible options for 2014. It was becoming quite apparent Busch had another deal lined up outside of the organization he helped become a smashing success.

SHR’s co-owner Gene Haas went on record to say he would break the bank in order to acquire the services of Kurt Busch, even if that meant funding the entire effort himself. Gene Haas was none too concerned with Kurt Busch’s past exploits. Haas stated he was determined to get the company that bared his name Haas automation into the winner’s circle, and Kurt Busch was more than capable of accomplishing this feat. One week after the social media rumours circulated around the NASCAR world, Gene Haas announced Kurt Busch had indeed agreed to a multiyear contract to join SHR much to the chagrin of co-owner Tony Stewart.

Busch joins an all-star lineup that includes Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, and Danica Patrick.

It’s anybody’s guess how Busch will integrate himself into SHR’s dynamic trio.

On paper Kurt Busch is a SHR driver, but it feels as if he is Gene Haas’s driver and the other three team members are their own separate entity. One aspect that threatens to hinder Kurt Busch’s success at SHR is his unpredictability. Has Kurt completely turned over a new leaf? Or should we be worried about a behavioural relapse? Honestly I think Kurt can flourish in his new role at SHR, but resigning with FRR would have been a better option for his long term future.
This SHR experiment feels like a short term fix and nothing more. Kurt could have built something special with FRR, seeing how he was instrumental in the team’s incredible turn around. Essential Kurt is starting from scratch here.

Four different teams in four years creates some outstanding obstacles to overcome, but if anybody is up to the task it’s Kurt Busch.

Final grade- C-

Photo courtesy of zimbio.com

Stewart-Haas Racing Press Conference

Topics: Kurt Busch

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