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COLUMN: Kurt Busch's move shows SHR is thinking younger

Aug 11, 2018 Hit: 241 Written by 
Kurt Busch is shown after winning the pole this past June at MIS. Talk this weekend as NASCAR returns to MIS is on Busch's future and where he'll race in 2019.
Kurt Busch is shown after winning the pole this past June at MIS. Talk this weekend as NASCAR returns to MIS is on Busch's future and where he'll race in 2019. Daniel Shirley/Getty Images

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Silly season has begun, and the big drama this weekend surrounds Kurt Busch, 2004 Cup champion, who is still finalizing his plans for the 2019 season. Here’s a look at the players involved, and my take on what it all really means.

 

Kurt Busch: You would think that a driver with an attached sponsor (Monster Energy) would be someone a team would want to hold onto … but apparently that’s not the case with Kurt Busch. His one-year renewal for 2018 went down to the wire, and it does not look like it’s going to happen again, according to published reports.

Kurt has not confirmed anything, but he did not deny it. He said he is talking to multiple teams, which to me is an admission he won’t be in the 41 next year.

So what’s SHR’s motivation here in not agreeing to terms with Busch? Of course money is probably a factor: It always is, and we’re never in the room to know details about how much of a factor it is.

But no doubt, the youth movement plays a role too. SHR has the most senior roster in the Cup level, with drivers that are ages 42 (Harvick), 39 (Bowyer) and 34 (Almirola); Kurt Busch is 40, also on that high end.

Meanwhile, other teams are going younger (see Gibbs, Hendrick) and SHR doesn’t want to miss opportunities to get the stars of the future in their cars today. They even have one in their own system that is likely a good fit (more on that later).

Jamie McMurray

If the rumors are true, the guy on the short end of the stick if Busch moves to the 1 car is veteran Jamie McMurray, another veteran. While McMurray has won some of the biggest races in NASCAR through his career, he is in a career downslide.This season, McMurray has only one top-5 finish, four top-10 finishes and sits 22nd in the standings. Compared to his teammate Kyle Larson, who sits eighth in the standings and has contended for wins regularly, that doesn’t fly in today’s NASCAR.

As far as McMurray’s future, I don’t see any of the top teams having the room or desire to pick him up at this stage in his career, but he may be able to find a mid-range or smaller team who are looking for a veteran to help them improve, like Kasey Kahne did when he moved to the 95 this year.

Cole Custer

Getting back to the 41 car, SHR Xfinity Series driver Cole Custer is one of the young guns looking to move up to the Cup series and compete with the best of the best. He has a long career ahead of him, has shown considerable talent competing in Xfinity, and has a long, successful career ahead of him. There’s little doubt that SHR wants to get him moved up to Cup, the question is how soon, and that is debatable.

2019 is too early, some would say. But I don’t agree with that assumption.

Unless you’re going to lure a major, major name (like Martin Truex Jr.) or lure another young star from another manufacturer (Christopher Bell), Custer is the logical choice for the 41. And in case the thought entered your head, no way they want McMurray if the goal is youth.


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Matt Myftiu can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Follow him on Twitter @MattMyftiu.

Last modified on Sunday, 12 August 2018 16:55
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Matt Myftiu

Matt Myftiu has been a journalist for two decades with a focus on technology, NASCAR and autos.

Website: www.autotechreviews.com Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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