Report: Stewart makes formal offer to Kurt Busch

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NASCAR’s silly season is in overdrive because according to a report from MRN, Motor Racing Network, Stewart Haas Racing has made a formal offer to Kurt Busch for 2014. More information is here from NASCAR.com.

Busch is on a one-year contract with Furniture Row Racing through 2013, and neither driver nor team elaborated further on the rumor over the weekend at Michigan International Speedway. Busch did say his focus at the moment is solely on making the Chase for the Sprint Cup with Furniture Row.

“Well, it’s being focused,” he told NASCAR.com. “I’m excited that we’re running well. We’re able to seal the deal, when that’s been some of our struggles through the midpoint of the season.”

Apart from the oddity that two of NASCAR’s most decorated – and occasionally controversial – drivers could be linking up, the move seems unlikely for a couple reasons.

It’s a team that already has three cars, with Stewart set to return from his injuries, Kevin Harvick joining from Richard Childress Racing and Danica Patrick needing to improve in what will be her second full-time season at the Sprint Cup level. So Busch would be yet another alpha dog in the chain. After two years restoring his reputation at smaller teams, it’s unlikely he’d go to a new team to play second or third-fiddle at what would be a new team effort, as a fourth car for SHR.

As ever, available sponsorship will be the ultimate determining factor. GoDaddy has increased its NASCAR presence with some signage on Stewart’s No. 14, including the full livery on his car at the second Pocono race, Stewart’s most recent start. A sponsor that isn’t already in the SHR fold – a fold that currently includes Bass Pro Shops, Mobil 1, Quicken Loans and GoDaddy among others – would need to be found to make a fourth car possible.

Stewart Haas has already announced Ryan Newman is looking for new employment in 2014 and Stewart himself has said he’d do everything to help Newman going forward. I wouldn’t say “adding a fourth car after telling a friend you’d help him” counts as “helping” in this situation.

Better to be Busch though at this point, with several appetizing possibilities (SHR, Childress, Ganassi, growing at Furniture Row, or a wild card) on the table in free agency.

Zach Veach splits with Andretti Autosport for rest of IndyCar season

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Zach Veach will be leaving his Andretti Autosport ride with three races remaining in the season, choosing to explore options after the decision was made he wouldn’t return for 2021.

In a Wednesday release, Andretti Autosport said a replacement driver for the No. 26 Dallara-Honda would be named in the coming days. The NTT IndyCar Series will race Oct. 2-3 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and then conclude the season Oct. 25 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Veach was ranked 11th in the points standings through 11 races of his third season with Andretti. Since a fourth in the June 6 season opener at Texas Motor Speedway, he hadn’t finished higher than 14th.

“The decision was made that I will not be returning in 2021 with Andretti Autosport in the No. 26 Gainbridge car,” Veach said in the Andretti release. “This, along with knowing that limited testing exists for teams due to COVID, have led me to the decision to step out of the car for the remainder of the 2020 IndyCar season. I am doing this to allow the team to have time with other drivers as they prepare for 2021, and so that I can also explore my own 2021 options.

“This is the hardest decision I have ever made, but to me, racing is about family, and it is my belief that you take care of your family. Andretti Autosport is my family and I feel this is what is best to help us all reach the next step. I will forever be grateful to Michael and the team for all of their support over the years. I would not be where I am today if it wasn’t for a relationship that started many years ago with Road to Indy. I will also be forever grateful to Dan Towriss for his friendship and for the opportunity he and Gainbridge have given me.

“My love for this sport and the people involved is unmeasurable, and I look forward to continuing to be amongst the racing world and fans in 2021.”

Said team owner Michael Andretti: “We first welcomed Zach to the Andretti team back in his USF2000 days and have enjoyed watching him grow and evolve as a racer, and a person. His decision to allow us to use the last few races to explore our 2021 options shows the measure of his character.

“Zach has always placed team and family first, and we’re very happy to have had him as part of ours for so many years. We wish him the best in whatever 2021 may bring and will always consider him a friend.”

Andretti fields five full-time cars for Veach, Alexander Rossi, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Marco Andretti and Colton Herta.

It also has fielded James Hinchcliffe in three races this season.