Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Sprint Cup [Print without images]

Thursday, September 27, 2012
Kurt Busch set to drive No. 78

By David Newton
ESPN.com

DOVER, Del. -- Plans are being put into place for Kurt Busch to replace Regan Smith in the No. 78 Furniture Row car for the final five races of this season.

"That's what I have been told," Smith told ESPN.com on Thursday.

Busch was named Smith's replacement for next season earlier in the week. Smith has since been told that the 2004 Sprint Cup champion will go in the car after the Oct. 7 race at Talladega Super Speedway.

Busch's first race for the Denver-based organization would be the Oct. 13 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Furniture Row general manager Joe Garone told ESPN.com "we are working on it" and final details would be released either late Thursday or on Friday.

Busch has spent this season driving for underfunded and unsponsored Phoenix Racing. It is not known at this point whether that organization would compete in any of the final five races.

Busch is 25th in points, two spots behind Smith.

Smith, who won last season at Darlington Raceway, was disappointed in the decision that has left him searching for a new ride in a tough economic environment.

"At first I was pretty mad. Pretty disappointed is the best way I can put it," Smith said. "We've been out in Denver for over a year now. We've got our roots here. Now we've got to pack up and get back to North Carolina.

"I've got to be prepared to race out of there."

Most of the Sprint Cup organizations are based in the Charlotte area. Smith moved to Denver to be closer to the No. 78 team.

Smith began driving a partial schedule for Furniture Row in 2009 after winning the rookie of the year award in 2008 driving for Dale Earnhardt Inc., which shut down his team after the season.

The past two seasons driving a full schedule, Smith finished 26th and 28th in points. He felt his team had turned the corner this season after adding Todd Berrier as crew chief. He had back-to-back ninth-place finishes at Pocono and Watkins Glen.

Over the past six races the team's best finish was 14th at Atlanta.

"The thing that disappoints me about it is I was there when things were not good," Smith said. "It's truly tough to know I won't get to enjoy the good times there."

Garone said earlier in the year he hoped to expand to two teams, keeping Smith in the No. 78 and possibly adding Busch in the other. When the economics of that didn't work out, he turned to Busch.

"It happened almost overnight it seemed," Smith said. "There was very short notice."