Should Kurt Busch Stay at Furniture Row Racing or Leave for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014?

By Joseph Wolkin
Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

It’s been such a wild year for the NASCAR world. In a year where some drivers shockingly left their old teams to join new ones, those drivers have been doing exceptionally well. One of those cases is Kurt Busch.

Last year, the elder of the Busch brothers was one of the top-10 most hated athletes in the country. Now, after joining Furniture Row Racing in place of Regan Smith, Busch is on the verge of making the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup and is on the verge of bringing a small team to victory lane.

Since joining Furniture Row Racing last year, fans have seemingly had Busch’s back, sort of like when Darrell Waltrip was wrecked by Rusty Wallace and everyone started to hate Rusty. It appears that bringing this little team back to the top has boosted Busch’s popularity to very high levels, comparable to when he won the inaugural NASCAR Nextel Cup Series championship in 2004.

Considering the circumstances of him joining a team that’s never seen true success in NASCAR competition before (besides an occasional good run), Busch has run extremely well this year. He’s taken the No. 78 Chevrolet to the lead in 12 of the 24 races to this point in the season. Busch is working with veteran crew chief Todd Berrier, which has definitely helped him getting adjusted to the Colorado-based organization.

Now, silly season has arrived. There are several top rides available, and Busch is a candidate for approximately three of them — that’s if he wants them.

Busch has an offer on the table from Stewart-Haas Racing to drive a fourth car in 2014, joining Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick and Kevin Harvick. However, the team doesn’t even have full sponsorship for Harvick, who has 20 races with Budweiser signed on for 2014.

Besides that, they are not sure if his current sponsors will join him or stay at Harvick’s current Richard Childress Racing team, which Ryan Newman will likely take over.

According to a report by ESPN’s David Newton, HAAS Automation, which is owned by SHR co-owner, Gene Haas, would sponsor Busch’s effort if he opts to join the team next year. This is just an overall horrific decision. Sure, Busch is a heck of a talent, but SHR is having a horrific time adjusting from two full-time teams to three this year.

Clearly, they weren’t prepared for the new car along with adding Patrick’s team into the mix. Imagine what would happen if they add yet another car. That fourth car means more people, more parts, more engines, more technology, etc.

SHR hasn’t run well this year. They haven’t had the chemistry between each of the team’s drivers like they believed they were going to have. Patrick thought that her 26th-place run at Bristol (seven laps down) was a “step in the right direction.” Let’s face it, is the team prepared to have four cars in a stable that can’t even sustain three?

In the meantime, here’s Furniture Row Racing, a single-car organization that’s like a fourth RCR car. They have all the advantages that a team within the RCR shop has, but the only thing is they’re located in Colorado.

However, they’ve been adopted by Denver as one of the favorite team’s there. Busch supposedly loves the environment within the race shop and has helped build the team into a contender. They’ve been the favorite to win several races this year including at New Hampshire, Bristol, Michigan and one or two others.

However, since they aren’t used to running up front, they’ve had some trouble withstanding the standards of running up front, which is likely the reason why Busch is considering moving to SHR.

If Busch accepts the offer at SHR, he’s just going to be an extra horse in the stable that gets the same attention, and probably even less than the other drivers. At Furniture Row Racing, he’s the main guy. Everyone loves him there. He’s more relaxed than ever before and his temper surely hasn’t been bad this year.

The main thing though is that he’s running extremely well. The fans are starting support him and eventually, he’s going to get into victory lane. Unfortunately, the only thing stopping him from winning is the other cars. But he’s close, and the clear choice for Busch is to stay at Furniture Row Racing.

Joseph Wolkin can be followed on Twitter at @JosephNASCAR.

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