Kurt Busch isn’t worried about where he’ll be racing in 2018.
As the winner of 2017 Daytona 500, he strengthened his resume significantly prior to his next round of negotiations with his current team at Stewart-Haas Racing.
After four years with the organization, Busch has won at least one race each season and qualified for the play-offs.
“I don’t have any worries,” Busch said on Thursday. “I know that I delivered for the team. Our performance level isn’t one that should be in question. Winning the Daytona is special, but performing week in and week out, the deliverables that I bring sponsorship wise, that comes into play.
“I know that (Monster Energy) working with NASCAR to try to sort out their issues with NASCAR and the entitlement sponsor. So there’s a lot of moving parts. But I don’t feel any fear whatsoever. I actually feel really confident on the sponsorship that I bring. Ford Performance’s involvement with Stewart-Haas and how I blended in with this team, I feel great.”
Busch still has options remaining on his contract. It’s on SHR to notify the driver — or his representation — that they have picked up that option by an established date.
Busch remains 14th in the standings in his 17th full season on the tour. In 592 starts, Busch has scored 29 wins, 21 poles, 127 top fives and 251 top 10 finishes. And he’s pleased with the progress his team has made this year despite changing manufacturers at the start of the year.
“To start off winning the biggest stock car race in the world and to have the chance to hoist up the Harley J. Earl trophy, that was a special moment and the highlight of my career.,” Busch said. “That isn’t something to rest on. I would say a few weeks after that, we were slightly hungover, not necessarily literally. I just seemed like a fog. The energy. I get sent on a media tour. (Crew chief) Tony Gibson lives here in the shadows of Daytona International Speedway. All of us were so excited. We’re ordering rings, flags. We’re taking the Harley J. Earl trophy to Ford’s headquarters, Monster’s headquarters, Haas’ headquarter…there was a lot going on.
“Once we settled in and learned the balance of our Ford and how things were changing here and there, quite honestly, I think we’ve done great. In half the races this year we have a top 10 finish. (Kevin) Harvick won last week on a road course. For us to win at a superspeedway shows the versatility that Stewart-Haas has. We have to focus on the mile-and-a-halves and making sure we are best prepared for when the playoffs start.”
This weekend, Busch is concentrating on winning the Coke Zero 400. Should he sweep the Monster Energy Cup races at the track Busch would be just the sixth driver to accomplish that task. Fireball Roberts was the first driver to pull off the feat in 1962 followed by Cale Yarborough (1968), LeeRoy Yarbrough (1969) and Bobby Allison (1982). After 31 years, Jimmie Johnson doubled down in 2013.
Busch doesn’t have his winning Daytona 500 car to go into battle on Saturday night — it’s in the Daytona museum. But if the replacement car the team built for Talladega is any indication of how Busch will run this weekend, the driver of the No. 41 Haas/Monster Ford has nothing to worry about.
“The car we brought this weekend finished sixth earlier this year at Talladega,” Busch said. “We’ll be alright.”