Source: Lee Spencer
Kurt Busch will drive the No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet in 2013.
Busch, 34, signed a one-year contract with the Denver-based team on Monday. With the resources team owner Barney Visser has assembled, including the addition of veteran crew chief Todd Berrier in July, the 2004 Sprint Cup champion is confident the move to Furniture Row Racing will put his career back on the right track.
“It’s a program that has shown me they have the same type of passion for racing like I do,” said Busch, who first surveyed Furniture Row’s operation back in July. “Barney Visser was the No. 1 person to make all this happen. He has a tremendous amount of passion. He’s a racer, and he’s seen it from inside of the cockpit.”
For Furniture Row, Busch signifies a driver who can help them get to the next level in the Sprint Cup Series.
“Our main objective and goals are to field a team that competes for wins, makes the Chase and goes on to win a Sprint Cup Championship,” said FRR general manager Joe Garone. “In the past seven years, we’ve made great strides in building and developing fast racecars, securing productive partnerships and bringing together people whom I’d put against any other in the business.
“. . . We believe that Kurt, who is a past Cup Champion, and whose record speaks for itself, gives us an opportunity to achieve our goals, as an organization, we just can’t pass by.”
Although Busch had several offers on the table, one of the selling points was FRR’s technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing. Furniture Row relies on engines, chassis and data from RCR.
“Furniture Row’s commitment, it could be with whoever as dedicated as this group is to stepping up its program,” Busch said. “But considering their relationship with RCR, it was a key factor to have that level of engines and engineering support that will be available to us. I think the experience level at Childress with help them get to the top quicker.”
Busch joined James Finch’s Phoenix Racing last December after parting ways with Penske Racing. He is 25th in the 2012 point standings. This season marks only the third time since the Chase for the Sprint Cup was introduced that Busch has missed NASCAR’s playoff.
His best Cup finish with Phoenix Racing, so far, was third at Sonoma in June. In the Nationwide Series, Busch won the July Daytona race — a popular victory for the underfunded, shorthanded Spartanburg, S.C.-based squad. Despite Phoenix Racing’s association with Hendrick Motorsports, the team is far from being a satellite operation.
“The team was competitive, just not as competitive as we had hoped,” Busch said. “Those guys worked hard all year. They worked harder than any other bunch in the garage. We won at Daytona in the Nationwide Series together, and we almost won a Cup race at Sonoma. My relationship with Finch is the same as it was in the beginning, when we made our handshake agreement. He gave me an opportunity in Cup that I’ll never forget.”
“We just wanted to be able to compete more often, and that’s why I think a team like Furniture Row is a good choice. The depth of the organization would surprise people. On the outside, it’s not what it looks like. On this inside, the depth is pretty thick.”
In 12 seasons on the Cup tour, Busch has amassed 24 victories, 89 top-five finishes and 171 top-10 finishes in 427 starts. Busch has a 10-year winning streak that is in jeopardy given the rash of engine and mechanical failures he’s experienced in the No. 51 Chevrolet this season.
Furniture Row was founded by Visser in 2005 and ran a limited schedule until 2008. By far, their best season was 2010 with Regan Smith, when he earned his first career win and the first career win for Furniture Row at Darlington Speedway. It was also the team’s top finish in the point standings, 26th. This year, Smith is 23rd in the standings after 28 races.