New deal: Kurt Busch staying put at Stewart-Haas Racing

It’s official: Kurt Busch has a Monster deal for next year.

Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, will return to Stewart-Haas Racing, thanks to a new multi-year contract announced Wednesday afternoon at the team’s shop in Kannapolis, North Carolina.

And his No. 41 SHR Chevrolet will carry sponsorship from Monster Energy, which had been a primary sponsor for the No. 54 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Busch’s car will carry Monster sponsorship for the first time at Martinsville Speedway in two weeks.

Next year, Monster Energy will be the alpha sponsor (hood) for 17 races and the bravo sponsor (quarter panel) for 18 races with one full primary race sponsorship.

“To me, it’s a dream come true to have this opportunity,” said Busch. “There’s a lot that I’ve accomplished at Stewart-Haas in a short amount of time, but there’s so much more ahead of us in the future, and I can’t wait to get the claw (Monster’s symbol) on the track and get it to Victory Lane.”

Busch has enjoyed considerable success at the four-car SHR outfit, where he is teamed with crew chief Tony Gibson and fellow drivers Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick.

Heading into Sunday’s 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, Busch is ranked third in the Sprint Cup points standings. For the season, he has three poles, two victories, 10 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.

Sunday’s race at Talladega is the third and final event in the Contender Round of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Busch will advance to the Eliminator Round with a finish of eighth and no laps led at Talladega; ninth and at least one lap led; or 10th and the most laps led. If other Chase drivers have problems at Talladega — a distinct possibility — that would make Busch’s chances of advancement that much easier.

Looking back: A photo collection of Kurt Busch's career highlights

And he left no question of his agenda with Monster on board.

“It’s not just, we’re going to go out there and run around in circles,” Busch said. “We’re going out there to win, sit on poles, lead laps. And everybody shares the passion for going to Victory Lane. And that’s what it takes. It takes all three entities. It takes Monster, it takes Stewart-Haas and it takes Kurt Busch.”

SHR co-owner Tony Stewart praised Busch, saying he leaned on him heavily for setup advice. “I’ve always respected Kurt’s talent and determination, and I’m glad it’s staying at Stewart-Haas Racing,” Stewart said. “Kurt can win at every racetrack we visit, and his feedback and attention to detail make our entire organization better.”

During his career, Busch has 19 poles, 27 career Cup race victories, 116 top fives and 218 top 10s. He also was won five NASCAR XFINITY Series races and four more in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Two races stand out in Busch’s career: At Homestead-Miami Speedway in the final race of 2004 and the first year of the Chase, Busch lost his right-front wheel heading into the pits, but miraculously managed to stay on the lead lap and narrowly edged Jimmie Johnson for the Sprint Cup title.

But Busch’s most remarkable drive might have come last year. In his first and so far only start in the Verizon IndyCar Series, Busch finished sixth in the Indianapolis 500 and won Rookie of the Year honors for the race.

Still, Busch is looking to the future in NASCAR.

“This is a reason to celebrate,” said Busch. “This is something very significant. And it’s fun and it’s exciting.”