Stewart-Haas Racing didn’t pick up Kurt Busch’s 2018 contract option during the 2017 season. That lack of an option effectively made Busch a free agent, though he eventually returned to the team on a one-year deal for 2018.
The scenario is pretty much repeating itself right now. Busch doesn’t have a contract with the team for 2019 as September approaches. But this time Busch could be seriously looking to join another team for next season. He used an analogy involving current Chicago Cubs pitcher Cole Hamels earlier this week. Hamels was traded from the Rangers to the Cubs.
“Cole Hamels might not have been given respect, and a change of scenery might have been good for him,” Busch told the Las Vegas Review-Journal.
“I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case. It’s just a matter of finding a sweet spot.”
The 2004 Cup Series champion said last week that he had been talking to multiple teams for a ride in 2019. His tenure with Stewart-Haas has been very good — he’s made the playoffs in each of his seasons with the team. But he hasn’t had the sustained success that Kevin Harvick has experienced with SHR and Busch is currently winless in 2018 as Harvick has seven wins and teammate Clint Bowyer has two.
A move elsewhere for Busch would be a downgrade
But it’s worth noting that Busch is fourth in the points standings, the first driver behind Kyle Busch, Harvick and Martin Truex Jr., the three drivers who have dominated the 2018 season. He’s currently the best of the rest. So that makes you wonder if the “sweet spot” is more about Busch’s fit within an organization rather than his performance.
Because let’s be honest, the odds of Busch’s performance declining with a new team in 2019 vs. SHR is quite high. Yeah, SHR and Ford is moving to a new car next season, but we’re guessing Ford has learned a few things from Chevy’s struggle with the Camaro in 2018. SHR and Joe Gibbs Racing are the two best teams in the garage right now and Busch isn’t going to Team Penske or Hendrick Motorsports. Anywhere else is a downgrade.
Is that what Busch wants at 40? Hamels moved from a downtrodden Texas Rangers team to a thriving Cubs team. Busch would be pulling the reverse.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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