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

Saturday, August 24, 2013
Haas would sponsor Kurt Busch

By David Newton
ESPN.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Kurt Busch will be sponsored by Haas Automation if he signs with Stewart-Haas Racing for the 2014 season.

Gene Haas, who co-owns SHR with Tony Stewart, told ESPN.com on Saturday he wants the 2004 Sprint Cup champion in one of his cars because he wants to take his non-racing company's name to Victory Lane.

Busch
Busch

"I'd be happy to have a driver like that on our team," Haas said before the Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway. "You'd win a lot of races. I'd really be happy for my company Haas to be in the winner's circle. I've never been there. I want to be there with that name.

"I know Kurt has had a lot of sponsorship issues, but to me, I just want to win. I'm not too much worried about that stuff."

Haas and the Furniture Row Racing driver began talking about the possibility of him coming to SHR last month during a General Motors dinner in Indianapolis.

Not long after that, SHR offered Busch a contract to expand the organization to four teams with Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick.

That came about a month after Stewart announced Ryan Newman would not return to SHR in 2014 because the organization didn't have sponsorship or funding to expand to four teams.

That changed when Haas stepped forward with Haas Automation for Busch, who has struggled to land sponsorship since a tumultuous departure from Penske Racing after the 2011 season.

"Tony was looking at it from a business standpoint ... you've got to have sponsors, you've got to have this, you've got to have that,'' Haas said. "Tony is a smart business man. He was concerned can we afford to do this. That's where the Ryan Newman-Tony thing came to where they decided to [part].

"The deal with Kurt Busch ... it's all on me. I'd like to have a dog in the fight, and I'm highly qualified."

Busch has offers from several other teams, including one from Furniture Row that was given to his attorneys on Friday. Busch has yet to look over the FRR deal and likely won't until Monday.

Haas said nothing has been signed as far as he knows, but he is optimistic Busch will come to SHR.

SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli said on Friday that the organization was stepping up its efforts to sign Busch.

"As far as Kurt's deal, that is moving forward,'' Zipadelli said. "We spent time this week talking about buildings and expanding. So as far as that part goes we're pretty much committed."

Asked specifically if he felt SHR could sign Busch, Zipadelli added, "We're working on that. If we can get it all worked out, we're going to add that link."

Busch, who qualified second at Bristol, said having organizations interested him after two years of having trouble finding a top organization and sponsor willing to back him was a confidence booster.

Busch entered Saturday's race ninth in points with three races left before the 12-driver Chase is set. He did not give a timetable for when a decision would be made on his future despite rumblings in the Cup garage it could come as early as next week.

Busch made it clear his focus was on making the Chase.

"So right now, the blinders are on,'' Busch said. "We are full-focus on just making sure we get nice, consistent finishes."