SPEEDWAY, Ind. — Kyle Busch’s openness about the unresolved nature of his 2023 contract status has had a ripple effect for other teams in the NASCAR Cup Series garage. The two-time Cup champion admitted he has shopped his services to other organizations as talks to return to Joe Gibbs Racing have stalled.
When asked about a possible connection between Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing for next season, SHR senior politician Kevin Harvick didn’t hold back.
“I would hire Kyle Busch today,” Harvick said, “because he would have a big impact on the performance of our team and just the urgency of doing some things better.”
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Bush shed new light on the stalled negotiations with candid remarks Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, saying “obviously, it’s a mess right now.” Busch said he was willing to rejoin JGR for a salary below his current free agent market value.
SHR currently fields Fords for Harvick, Aric Almirola, Chase Briscoe and Cole Custer in the Cup Series, and Almirola has announced his intention – for now – to retire at the end of the season. Among those four, only Briscoe won this year. Harvick is on the postseason bubble, but is the leading SHR driver in the series standings at 10th, ahead of Almirola (13th), Briscoe (16th) and Custer (26th).
Harvick would not say whether SHR was a player in Kyle Busch’s Derby, saying only that he had not been contacted by Stewart-Haas management about Busch. But he spoke glowingly of Bush’s prospects and ability.
“There’s no way Kyle Busch doesn’t have a lot of options,” Harvick said. “Well, you know, I know there’s a lot going on around Kyle. But in the end, Kyle is still one of the best to ever come through this garage. So there are a lot of teams out there that can say they’ve probably never had one of these types of drivers. You can literally rebuild an entire organization if someone happened to not have one of these types of drivers. Given the right circumstances, you can rebuild an entire organization from pure talent alone.”
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Harvick has had on-track differences with Busch in the past, most notably during the 2011 season when their rivalry came to a head at Darlington Raceway. But with those differences long gone, Harvick said the possibility of Busch as a teammate would raise the bar on performance.
“I get along well with Kyle,” Harvick said. “We’ll be racing each other and we’ll be mad at each other, but I have a good relationship with Kyle, but I can tell you that having a teammate like Kyle makes my car run faster. Because when you have all the cars going fast, everything goes faster, faster. So, I’m 100% open to having Kyle as a teammate. I think this particular case in itself is something that I feel… I don’t even know, I haven’t heard anything about it from my organization. So I don’t even know which car it’s for, which car it’s not for. I don’t even know what the talks would be for.”