Kurt Busch confirms move to Stewart-Haas (UPDATED)

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Furniture Row Racing driver Kurt Busch has confirmed that he will move to Stewart-Haas Racing next year – which will create a four-car operation that features himself, team co-owner Tony Stewart, fellow newcomer Kevin Harvick, and Danica Patrick.

Jim Utter of The Charlotte Observer reports that an official announcement from SHR will be made tomorrow afternoon, and that sources say the team is seeking to claim the No. 00 for Busch.

“This is the kind of situation every driver wants to be in and I’m grateful to [SHR co-owner] Gene Haas and Haas Automation for providing me this opportunity,” Busch told Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press.

“Gene wants to win, and wants me to go out there and perform to the best of my abilities.”

Talk of Busch making a possible jump to Stewart-Haas had been almost constant since word broke out after the recent race at Michigan that the team had offered him a contract.

Now, after two years of competing with smaller operations on the Sprint Cup circuit following his release from Penske Racing at the end of 2011, it appears that Busch has earned another opportunity to race as part of a bigger squad with more resources.

He has been in the thick of the Chase battle this season with the single-car FRR team, and currently sits 12th in the championship, six points out of the Top-10 cutoff point with two “regular season” races remaining.

Last Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway, Busch indicated that while he was blocking outside distractions in order to focus on getting himself and FRR into the Chase, he was also pleased with having as much interest from other teams as he’s gotten this Silly Season.

“…To have the outside guys knocking on the door going, ‘Hey we want you to drive,’ – it’s a good confidence booster, to say the least,” said Busch, who finished 31st in Saturday’s Cup race following wheel hub issues.

FRR general manager Joe Garone said in a statement that the team made Busch an offer last week to stay with them “in 2014 and beyond,” but that they respected his ultimate decision.

“His driving skill and being a dedicated team player will always be appreciated at Furniture Row Racing,” Garone continued. “But for right now, the main focus for Kurt and the team is to qualify for the Chase and contend for the 2013 Sprint Cup Series championship.”

Busch’s move to SHR comes just days after Michael Waltrip Racing crew chief Rodney Childers announced that he too would join the team as Harvick’s next crew chief. On that note, USA Today’s Jeff Gluck is now reporting that Childers has been given an early release from MWR.

Brown: Dennis would have made same decision on McLaren-Honda split

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Zak Brown believes former McLaren team boss Ron Dennis would have made the same decision to cut ties with struggling Formula 1 engine partner Honda had he still been in charge at the team in 2017.

McLaren executive director Brown helped engineer a deal for the team to split with Honda at the end of the 2017 season after three tough seasons that had seen the Japanese manufacturer offer little in the way of performance or reliability.

The decision split opinion, with McLaren spurning a significant annual financial injection from Honda in order to link up with Renault, believing its on-track fortunes had to be prioritized over its commercial interests.

In an interview with Sky Sports, Brown was asked if he believed Dennis – McLaren’s long-running team chief before stepping down at the end of 2016 – would have made the same decision to cut ties with Honda.

“I think he would have,” Brown said.

“He was here when those conversations were ongoing and I think Ron always has and always will have the best interests of McLaren in his heart.

“He is Mr. McLaren. It burns him inside as much as us not to see us winning races.”

Brown also elaborated on the decision to break off the much-lauded relationship with Honda, saying the first signs of trouble with the 2017 power unit were clear in pre-season.

After a number of attempts to try and rectify the situation, Brown and his fellow team bosses felt there was no alternative but to end the Honda deal for 2018.

“We knew we were in trouble in testing in Barcelona and we worked really hard for six months to try and find solutions that would give us confidence that we’d be much more competitive in 2018,” Brown said.

“Ultimately, after trying many different things and many different ways we felt we couldn’t get there.

“Three years is a long time in Formula 1 and so we needed to change the direction to get our team back at the top.”