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Kurt Busch a possibility for EGR’s No. 42 

August 16, 2013, David Caraviello, NASCAR.com

Montoya's departure from EGR could open doors for Busch

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Juan Pablo Montoya’s looming departure from Earnhardt Ganassi Racing means a potential opening for Kurt Busch.

The 2004 champion of NASCAR’s top series said he spoke with EGR personnel in regard to 2014 before the news broke this week that Montoya would not be returning to the No. 42 car after this season. Montoya has been with Chip Ganassi’s team for the entirety of his NASCAR career, which began with the 2007 season and includes victories at the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen.

Busch this season has substantially raised the competitive level of Furniture Row Racing, which is in Chase for the Sprint Cup contention for the first time in the team’s history. A 24-time winner on NASCAR’s top tour, Busch said the talks he’s had with EGR were not related to Montoya’s impending exit.

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“I’m good friends with Felix Sabates, and I know Chip real well and the whole gang -- Max Jones, Steve Lauletta,” Busch said Friday. Sabates is EGR’s minority owner, while Jones is team manaer and Lauletta president. “They came up with that decision (on Montoya) not based off any of the talks that I’ve had with them, but it is a potential opportunity, that’s for sure.”

Busch also hasn’t ruled out returning to Furniture Row next year. He joined the Denver-based team late last season, and although he’s yet to win a race, he stands 11th in points and right in the mix for a potential Chase berth. Busch visited the organization’s Colorado facility earlier this week in a trip that also included a stop at Denver Broncos training camp and throwing out the first pitch at a Colorado Rockies game.

His focus this weekend at Michigan International Speedway -- where he’s won twice, once victory each with owners Jack Roush and Roger Penske -- is less on 2014 than it is enhancing Furniture Row Racing’s push for a first playoff berth.

“The focus is making the Chase, and we have four weeks to go, and we’re in great position,” he said. “It’s been neat to feel the energy from the team. We spent a week in Colorado meeting with Denver media, and they’ve adopted us as like a fifth sports entity for that town. It’s been really neat. They talk Broncos. They talk Rockies. And now they’re talking us. So it’s cool to have talks with Furniture Row about what we can do in 2014 and beyond. The Ganassi thing came up, and other phone calls have happened. Nothing’s going to change. We’re just still really focused on the Chase and what we can do in these next four weeks together.”

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