Indianapolis, IN- Kurt Busch and Stewart/Haas Racing formally made their announcement Tuesday that the two would join forces for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season in 2014 and beyond.
Many thought the decision to bring Busch to SHR was a slap in the face of Ryan Newman since he was notified in July he would not return to the team in 2014 since they didn’t have the money or resources for a four car team.
That speculation was ended Tuesday afternoon when co-owner Gene Haas said not only was the decision to bring Busch in not Tony Stewart’s idea, but the owner-driver wasn’t thrilled about it.
“I did this on my own and overstepped my authority a little bit,” said Haas. ”Tony (Stewart) was a little upset with the expansion. Tony said we have to wait a while. I said well I kind of already made an offer to Kurt Busch.”
That pretty much ends any speculation whether there was any bad blood between Stewart or Newman.
Stewart and Newman have been friends since the USAC days in the 90′s. Smoke brought Newman with him to start SHR. Most wondered why wouldn’t he let his buddy stay even after winning the Brickyard 400 this year if they ended up having the financial resources.
Come to find out, they don’t have the resources and don’t even have enough room to house four teams yet.
“We don’t have room yet. We need to add another building like HMS (Hendrick Motorsports). It will take 6-9 months to complete.” Haas also said his own company Haas Automation would sponsor Busch full-time so that’s where the funding came from.
When asked why he wouldn’t fund Newman, he said, “I wanted a change and opportunity to do something different. This is nothing negative about Ryan. This gives me a chance to be a sponsor.”
Haas said point blank that Stewart and Newman racing from the get-go was Smoke’s decision. He didn’t have much say in it. Once Newman’s contract was up it was his turn to bring in his own driver and put his name on the car and driver on his own.
“This was my choice. It was an opportunity to great to pass up. I bent a few rules to push and had a great conversation with Kurt. With the other three cars having sponsors lined up next year this was my opportunity to be a primary sponsor. I’ve always been a part-time sponsor but not full-time.
“I’m excited to be on the car full-time at Daytona and the Brickyard. Haas Automatic has never been in victory lane.”
That basically says it all. At the end of the day Haas wanted more say and input at SHR. He admittedly overstepped boundaries and made an end-run around Stewart to go over his head and bring in Busch.
This is his deal and his driver.
Eric Smith is the Lead Motorsports Writer for Race Review Online. Follow him on Twitter @ericsportsguru
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