FORT WORTH, Texas – Kurt Busch will be driving for Chip Ganassi Racing for at least two more years, with Monster Energy as his primary sponsor.
Busch and team owner Chip Ganassi announced the multiyear extension of Busch’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series contract on Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway, but not before Busch teased reporters with an impending retirement gag, amplified by the gift of a rocking chair from TMS president Eddie Gossage.
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The specific terms of the driver and sponsor contracts weren’t revealed, other than that both were multiyear commitments.
“It’s been a good career, it’s been fun, and it’s been tough at the same time to see how things have changed and how things have gone,” deadpanned Busch, the 2004 series champion who advanced to the Playoffs this year on the strength of his win at Kentucky Speedway. “Wait! Eddie, really? A rocking chair? It’s not time for a rocking chair. This old guy’s got some kick left.”
With that, Busch and accompanying Monster girls popped a spray of confetti out of champagne bottles to announce the new contract.
Ganassi had high praise for the 41-year-old driver, crediting him with elevating the performance of not only the No. 1 Chevrolet but also with helping teammate Kyle Larson’s effort in the No. 42 Chevy.
“With his driving this year, he’s sparked the No. 1 car, taken it to a place it’s never been before,” Ganassi said. “That was the first time a Chevrolet won at Kentucky, so we were pretty pleased with that. And, obviously, having Monster as a great partner has been a real shot in the arm for our team …
“As Kurt will tell you, he and Kyle Larson have had a great time becoming teammates, and I think it’s made Larson a better driver. … So this guy brings a lot more than just what’s on the track. He brought a lot of guys on that 1 team their first Cup win, and I think you saw that in the exuberance at Kentucky. So I’m proud to keep him as part of this team for the foreseeable future.”
A multiyear deal for Busch is an anomaly. His recent contracts — and Monster’s accompanying commitments — have been for one year each.
“To have a multiyear deal, it’s comforting that I won’t have to answer the questions weekly about being a 41-year-old veteran in a sport where there’s a young push,” Busch said. “To have that done, that’ll be refreshing, because the focus should be on track.
“It should be the on-track product, what happens out there racing, what happens during the week with different promotional things and continuing to build this sport that’s given me so much — those are some of the big reasons why I signed on again to keep going, smile out there and go for the trophy.”
Chip Ganassi Racing is the sixth stop for Busch in his Monster Energy Series career. He spent the previous five seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing, where Busch landed six of his 31 big-league wins.
Contributing: Staff reports