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Stewart-Haas Looking To Expand With Kurt Busch

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, August 23 2013

Kurt Busch could be in a Stewart-Haas Chevy next season. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Alan Marler)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

BRISTOL, Tenn. – Slightly more than a month ago, Stewart-Haas Racing told Ryan Newman it wouldn’t field a fourth team in 2014 and he needed to find another home, but that’s no longer the case, at least where a fourth team is concerned.

SHR Competition Director Greg Zipadelli said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway that plans were proceeding to put together a fourth team for Kurt Busch.

“We spent some time this week talking about buildings and expanding,” Zipadelli said. “As far as that part of it goes, we are pretty much committed.”

Zipadelli admitted they talked last year about putting Busch in the No. 39 Chevrolet for the 2013 season, but “things just didn’t work out.”

“It’s really nothing that Ryan (Newman) did wrong,” Zipadelli said. “I mean he’s done a great job. He’s a good guy, heck of a driver. This just kind of got sprung on us 14 days ago or less. Gene (Haas, team co-owner) just showed some interest and having the ability to put something together. He has always liked Kurt (Busch). Without getting into a ton of details that is really all it is. It’s something we are working on. I don’t know that it will all come together. It is kind of late.”

On July 12 when team co-owner Tony Stewart announced at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that Newman wouldn’t be with SHR in 2014 he said it was because the organization wasn’t ready to expand to a fourth team.

“I truly wish we were able to facilitate four teams at this time,” Stewart said that July day. “This was a business decision that was Gene’s as well as mine and it was a hard decision.”

That same day Newman said Stewart had telephoned him two days earlier, spent 20 minutes on the phone with him, told him about the upcoming announcement regarding Kevin Harvick and that he would not be with SHR in 2014. That meant SHR’s driver lineup for 2014 would be Stewart, Harvick and Danica Patrick.

On Friday, in explaining the team’s actions in July, Zipadelli said, “We didn’t think that we would have all the pieces to get put together by Loudon and felt like it was the best thing for Ryan to give him a fair shot at securing something for himself.”

Newman has nothing signed for 2014. However, his name has been tossed around as a candidate for a fourth team at Richard Childress Racing and to possibly replace Juan Pablo Montoya at Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing. It also has been rumored that Furniture Row, which fields cars for Busch, was a possibility.

Busch, the series 2004 champion, was unavailable for comment Friday.

– Deb Williams can be reached at dwilliams@racintoday.com

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Friday, August 23 2013
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