Kurt Busch leaving SHR, other Silly Season updates

NASCAR

Kurt Busch hoped to announce his 2019 plans in Las Vegas. That didn’t happen.

While Busch’s departure from Stewart-Haas Racing — with him moving to Chip Ganassi Racing — is still expected, Busch couldn’t say anything definitive about his plans Wednesday when meeting with the media.

But the 2004 Cup champion announced Sunday night that he would not return to SHR.

Busch is expected to take Monster Energy, which promotes a lot of events in Las Vegas, with him to Ganassi.

“With our industry being here, lots of media, it’s my hometown, it felt like I should be able to get it done this week,” Busch said Wednesday. “I don’t know exactly [when we will announce]. There are a few people in the works, still, that haven’t committed. We’ve got to get those things lined up.

“It is late, but I still feel confident about where things will go.”

Busch would replace Jamie McMurray, who still has not said whether he would accept Ganassi’s offer to do one final race — the 2019 Daytona 500 — for the team.

The Ganassi announcement is one of many still to come in the weeks leading into 2019.

Among them:

  • Daniel Suarez‘s future. He is still the leader in the clubhouse to replace Busch at SHR.

  • Denny Hamlin‘s crew chief. It is expected that Joe Gibbs Racing will look in-house to fill that position.

  • The top full-time car besides the Ganassi and SHR cars without an announced driver would be the Go Fas Racing No. 32 car.

There was one driver announcement last week, Matt Tifft signing with Front Row Motorsports, which will continue to operate three cars.

Front Row bought the assets of BK Racing in August and operated it for the final 12 races. It will now rebrand that car, using the No. 36, to field a car for Tifft along with keeping Michael McDowell and David Ragan in the fold.

“This has been a dream of mine since I was a kid, and I can’t believe it’s finally coming true,” Tifft said. “I’m so thankful to Front Row Motorsports for giving me the opportunity to drive the No. 36 next season.”

Sponsorship wasn’t announced, but Tifft has typically brought at least some sponsorship to his previous rides. He had a solid second half of 2018 driving for Richard Childress Racing in the Xfinity Series, getting six top-10s in the last seven races.

While Hamlin’s crew chief has not been announced, a couple of others were during the past week: Danny Stockman will replace Justin Alexander as crew chief for Austin Dillon, and former Hamlin crew chief Mike Wheeler will move to Leavine Family Racing to be crew chief for Matt DiBenedetto.

Stockman won truck and Xfinity titles with Dillon at RCR.

“A guy I had a lot of success with in the past, two championships and trying to win a third together, it will be a great year next year,” Dillon said. “I just can’t wait. … Having that familiar voice back on the radio for me is going to be huge.

“I know what kind of passion he has for the sport, and the amount of effort he is going to put in next year is going to set the bar high at RCR.”

There will be some movement with charters as well. Furniture Row Racing has told inquiring teams that it has a buyer for its charter, but no one has announced who has bought it and where it could end up in 2019. It is not expected to result of any expansion of one of the top-10 organizations.

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