Many of NASCAR’s old guard- either for health or for sponsorship reasons- have been forced to the sidelines. One former champion- Kurt Busch- will be back for the 2018 season.
Not only will the 2004 champion return for another season of racing, he will be doing so in the 41 car he has piloted since 2014. Kurt Busch appeared to have his career placed in limbo when Stewart-Haas Racing announced they would not have his contract renewed last summer. All along, both SHR and the 38-year old Daytona 500 maintained they wanted to continue working together.
So what was this all about? In a word, money. Dollar figures will no doubt be kept under wraps when this is officially announced, but what can figure is that after surveying the NASCAR landscape, Kurt Busch will be racing for less money.
Such is the lay of the current NASCAR land. Busch could have easily found himself going the way of Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. While younger drivers are grabbing a bigger share of the spotlight- and thus, sponsorship dollars- drivers who are in their later careers, and yet still competitive, are struggling to get a slice of a shrinking monetary pie.
In the case of Kurt Busch, he had the unfortunate distinction of having a primary sponsor that became a series sponsor. Energy drink maker Monster, though a big company, only has so many dollars, and there have been rumblings that all has not necessarily been rosy in terms of the sponsor’s return on investment. So it’s not a matter of unhappiness with Kurt’s performance, it’s a numbers deal.
We’ll soon learn more. The good news for his fans is that the feisty hard-charger will be back for at least 2018. That’s good for NASCAR. It’s always good to have a mix of the old and the new. Rightfully so, as it seems Kurt Busch still has plenty of gas in the tank.