News Analysis: Kurt Busch’s contract option will not be picked up

What happened: Kurt Busch’s contract option to race at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018 won’t be picked up by the team, the Daytona 500 winner has been told. The news was first reported by Jerry Jordan of on Sunday, but Lee Spencer of posted Tuesday that “the expectation is that Busch will not drive the No. 41 Ford for SHR in 2018.” Moments later, NBC’s Nate Ryan also posted Busch’s contract will not be picked up. But shortly after those stories, SHR tweeted a denial: “We don’t comment on contract status, but we expect @KurtBusch back in our @MonsterEnergy / @Haas_Automation Ford in ’18. Just sayin’.” I asked for clarification from SHR on this, but was told to just refer to the tweet.

What it means: Busch is a free agent. Jordan and Spencer both have solid relationships with Busch, so the news his contract option wasn’t picked up is almost certainly accurate. However, that doesn’t mean SHR won’t bring Busch back with a renegotiated deal, which is perhaps why it issued a denial. The Monster Energy piece of this is the big question, because Monster likely was balking at sponsoring both the series and a race team (after all, it got a pretty good bargain on being the Cup title sponsor). We still need more information to understand what’s going on here, but the best guess is SHR told Busch it wasn’t bringing him back under the current deal, freeing him to look elsewhere while also hoping to negotiate a new deal with better terms.

News value (scale of 1-10): 8. The news of Busch’s option not being picked up is about a 5, but I’m rating this so highly because we aren’t actually sure what’s going on here. Media reports said one thing and the team said another thing, which is very unusual in NASCAR. Either way, it’s gotten everyone’s attention today.

Three questions: Um, what the hell? Is Busch really out, or is this confusion driven by Monster’s unorthodox way of conducting business? When will SHR let everyone know what’s going on with its other Silly Season situation — Danica Patrick?

11 Replies to “News Analysis: Kurt Busch’s contract option will not be picked up”

  1. Thank you for summing up the situation, with all the crazy stuff today.

    Us fans really appreciate that. Keep up the good work!

  2. Jeff I agree. I think reporters interpreted not picking up the option as him not staying at SHR. It’s all negotiations now. He could leave, but he also could stay.

  3. Personally, I think this has more to do with Monster’s MO, everything has to be dramatic and exciting. I’m getting to old for this bull%#*! I’m out of their target demographic,,, but they sure do want us older fans money.

    1. I agree, I am also too old for this stuff. I never bought into the 6 6 6 legend and blood clot forming energy drink stuff, but I don’t drink energy drinks and therefore am not a consumer
      . I just hope the sport stays somewhat recognizable.

  4. Monsters deal is 4 years with Nascar for the cup series sponsorship. Steve Phelps said this in an interview with Claire B. 2 weeks ago I heard on SiriusXM. I’m surprised no one picked that up for a story since the length of the deal was NEVER announced and kept rather secretive.

    So, most likely, Monster is out of the #41. Kurt will take less $$$$$ and stay there. It’s like Kimi over in F1. Kimi realizes this is the best he can get, dont spoil it at 37 years old.

  5. Offer Kurt less money- If he doesn’t take it, then maybe we will see a #41 DeWalt car in yellow and black with a certain Wisconsin native behind the wheel.

    He started his career in a Ford at the Cup level, maybe he’d like to end it that way.

    Hey! It may be far fetched, but It is Silly Season!

  6. Crazy stuff going on in Nascar and the seats are still empty, look at the Indy race. I hope Matt finds a ride and Danica stays where she is.

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