WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. – At the stroke of midnight on Tuesday, Aug. 1, Kurt Busch became a free agent when Stewart-Haas Racing declined to pick up the option on the 2017 Daytona 500 winner.
That doesn’t mean, necessarily, that Busch won’t be back in the No. 41 SHR Ford next year. In fact, the organization announced in a tweet that the expectation is that Busch will be back.
However, Busch also has the opportunity to negotiate with other team owners about filling potentially empty seats.
“They chose not to pick up their option, but I see it as good options for me,” Busch told reporters before Saturday morning’s first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice. “I’m not too worried about it. I feel like there’s more options out there than exist here (at Stewart-Haas alone).”
Busch, who celebrated his 39th birthday on Friday, indicated he has already heard from a number of interested suitors.
“The phone didn’t stop ringing all week, not just because it was my birthday,” he said. “I’m looking for the best possible option to race a competitive car that’s got a chance to win races, win poles and compete for a championship. There’s different cars that are options for me, and Stewart-Haas is one of them…
“The disruption of them not picking up my option, it gets the crew guys all flustered. Ford is very surprised by it. And so we’ve just got to stay focused, stay sharp. There’s no reason to not think that I couldn’t be back here. It’s just a matter of making it all work out. I’m not too worried about it.”