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Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Kurt Busch gets extension, new sponsor

By David Newton
ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Kurt Busch has signed a multiyear extension with Penske Racing that includes moving from the No. 2 car with Miller Lite as his primary sponsor into the No. 22 with Shell/Pennzoil as the sponsor, team officials said on Wednesday.

Brad Keselowski will move from Penske's No. 12 car into the No. 2, with Miller Lite -- which has been with the organization for 20 years -- remaining the sponsor for the No. 2.

Keselowski currently is sponsored by Verizon, but because of NASCAR's exclusivity deal with Cup series sponsor Sprint, Verizon's brand logo is not allowed on the car.

"Brad is one of the hottest young drivers in NASCAR and we're thrilled to welcome him to the Miller Lite Racing family," said Andy England, chief marketing officer at MillerCoors. "Rarely in this sport are you presented with the opportunity to build a relationship with a top-tier driver at the start of his career."

The addition of Shell/Pennzoil means that Mobil 1, a competing motor oil that sponsors Penske's Sam Hornish Jr., will not return in 2011. But Jonathon Gibson, vice president of Penske Racing, said Penske is committed to remaining a three-car operation, with Hornish in the third car.

"We'll be prepared to announce a new sponsorship deal for that car in the next few weeks or months," Gibson said. "We're very excited. For us to have the opportunity to bring in a great brand like Shell and extend our relationship with Miller puts us in a place where we can build for the future."

The Shell-/Pennzoil move is part of global deal that will provide associate sponsorship promoting Shell V-Power fuels for Penske IndyCar Series drivers Helio Castroneves, Will Power and Ryan Briscoe.

But it leaves Kevin Harvick, in the last year of his contract with Richard Childress Racing, without a sponsor. Shell/Pennzoil has been with Harvick since 2007. Miller Lite has been with Busch since 2006.

Harvick, who reportedly wanted out of his deal with RCR last season, is negotiating with RCR to find a new sponsor and stay with the company, according to a source. Harvick has been with RCR since he succeeded the late Dale Earnhardt in 2001.

A source said discussions between RCR and Budweiser, in its last season with Richard Petty Motorsports' Kasey Kahne, have taken place.

Kahne signed last week a deal with Hendrick Motorsports to replace Mark Martin in 2012 and drive a car to be determined by team owner Rick Hendrick in 2011.

"Shell and Pennzoil have been great partners with Richard Childress Racing since our first race together, when Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 team won the Daytona 500 in 2007," RCR owner Richard Childress said in a statement. "I'm disappointed that our partnership will conclude at the end of the year but understand some of the reasons that went into their business decision.

"What this creates for RCR is the opportunity for a new partner to forge its own relationship and identity with Kevin Harvick. ... We feel strongly that the third chapter of the No. 29 team's partnership history will be a successful one."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com.