By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
FORT WORTH, Texas — Retirement? Non-existent for the 2004 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Kurt Busch.
Both Busch and his primary sponsor Monster Energy have agreed to a multi-year deal to stay with Chip Ganassi Racing beyond 2019.
Saturday’s announcement began with a tease between Busch, Ganassi and Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage as they unveiled a white rocking chair. With a little bit of acting involved, things got real once Busch said why there’s rocking chair at the media center?
That’s when the Monster Energy girls came out as Busch announced the deal that he’ll stick around in the sport’s top level for many years to come. In typical Monster Energy fashion, Busch and the girls popped bottles of confetti to celebrate the new deal.
A relieved Busch said he’s ready to continue his career, hoping to finally capture an elusive Southern 500 and score another Daytona 500 triumph like he did in 2017.
“It means the world to me to have this come together and have a championship quality ride to race at this point in my life and in my career. There were multiple decisions that came into play,” Busch said.
“My wife Ashley, I love her dearly, she told me that you need to continue to race so I can do this Racing Wives deal on CMT. I wanted to give my best acting skills at the beginning.”
At 41 years old, Busch added that part of the skit was purposefully done because he doesn’t really understand the speculation and needing to know when the deal was going to be done.
Instead of people dwelling on the subject matter, Busch suggests people focusing on the on-track action and what the drivers are doing to promote their sponsorship products. With that in mind, Busch is eyeing on winning and doing what he’s been doing to grow the sport.
“It was fun to take you guys on that little ride for a quick minute,” Busch said. “That’s the ride you guys take me on every week and to have a multi-year deal will be comforting to know that I won’t have to answer the questions weekly about being a veteran in a sport where there’s a young push.
“It’ll be refreshing because the focus should be on track. It should be the on-track product.
“What happens out there racing? What happens during the week with different promotional things? To continue building this sport that’s giving me so much are some of those big reasons why I’ve signed on again and keep going. To smile out there and go after the trophies.”
Busch also thanked both loyal sponsor of Monster Energy and Ganassi for giving he and the No. 1 team the opportunity on a weekly basis.
“They’re special to me and I told them that we got to come in right away and go hard. We raced smart earlier this year to build a solid points base. We were able to win at Kentucky and had some other close wins that slipped through our fingers.
“Ultimately, this is about the partnership that we generated in a short time and the word and commitment that Monster Energy gave to me early in my career,” Busch added. “To be with a sponsor for almost a decade – that’s something it doesn’t happen all that often and it’s very special to me.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to race for Monster Energy in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. To deliver big time wins for them like Daytona with all the CEOs. There’s still more special moments ahead and more to accomplish. There’s plenty of gas in this tank and it’s going to be a lot of fun moving forward.”
Ganassi said it’s a pretty big day to keep Busch around for multiple years and his win at Kentucky Speedway, which marked Chevrolet’s first Cup win there, was a prime example of his continuous passion and motivation to make teams better.
“It’s not often to bring a guy into a team that’s a champion, but he proved that in his driving this year,” Ganassi said. “He sparked the No. 1 car to taking it into places that’s never been there before. I’m pretty pleased with that and having Monster (Energy) as a great partner has been a real shot in the arm for our team.”
Ganassi added that Busch working with crew chief Matt McCall and teammate Kyle Larson has made everyone around at CGR better, an attribute that he feels goes unnoticed by the media.
“Kurt brings a lot more than just what’s on the track,” Ganassi said. “He brings a lot off the track and brought a lot of guys on the No. 1 team their first NASCAR Cup win and I think you saw the exuberance at Kentucky. I’m very proud to keep him a part of this team for the foreseeable future.”
Known to be a racer, Busch has run in sanctioning bodies such as the NTT IndyCar Series and the NHRA to name a few in addition to his NASCAR duties.
When asked about the possibility of running the Indianapolis 500, a race Busch finished sixth in 2014, he’s still interested of running again, but it’s not a priority.
“To run the Indianapolis 500 is still on the list but it’s not high of a priority to run that race at this point,” Busch said. “The Month of May is a little ways away and there’s always time in between for that decision.”