GENE HAAS GOES SOLO IN SIGNING KURT BUSCH
Added by Amy Spivey on August 29, 2013.
Everyone in Stewart-Haas Racing’s public relations department deserves a raise. Just when they thought Tony Stewart’s sprint car accident was about as much as the organization could handle, Gene Haas decided to sign Kurt Busch to drive a fourth car for SHR in 2014 without the knowledge or consent of Stewart—his business partner, co-owner, driver, and the indisputable face of SHR.
“It’s been met with a little bit of resistance,” Haas said at the SHR press conference on Tuesday, where Busch was formally introduced as the newest member of the organization.
Photo Credit: Foxsports.com
Given the situation, that has to be the understatement of the season.
Earlier this summer, SHR announced that they would not re-sign driver Ryan Newman, with Stewart himself publicly stating that the organization was not ready to expand to a four-car operation. Newman was the odd-man out, as Kevin Harvick had already signed a deal to drive for SHR next year, and both sides expressed disappointment at the decision.
Imagine Stewart’s reaction when he found out about Busch. Imagine Newman’s. Neither could have been pretty.
Haas fully admitted that he never asked for Stewart’s input as the deal with Busch came together, and only told Stewart his plan when it was all but completed. “Completed” is a loose term in this case, as SHR doesn’t have any cars, parts, personnel, or even facilities for a fourth team. Apparently, Haas isn’t concerned about any of that.
But Haas is concerned about being a legitimate part of the organization, and putting his name back on a race car. His company, Haas Automation, will be the primary sponsor for Busch’s machine.
“Haas Automation has never been in the winner’s circle, and I’m sure that’s going to change next year,” Haas said Tuesday. “That’s my primary reason for basically pushing this expansion.”
SHR released a generic statement from Stewart, and while everyone is clamoring to ask the three-time champion his true thoughts, he likely won’t comment further for the time being. Stewart and Haas are business partners running a multi-million dollar operation, and they both understand that any display of public animosity would be devastating for their teams. Whatever conflicts they have, they will work out in private.
Good or bad, SHR will operate with four cars next season, but there’s a lot of work to be done to get the new team up and running. Haas was willing to take a big risk to sign Busch, so he should be more than willing to pour all of his resources into making Busch and his new team a success.