It had gone from being a fantasy rumour to ouside bet, finally growing increasingly likely and then on Monday widely leaked as a done deal. But the actual confirmation that 2004 Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch is to join Tony Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing was only actually confirmed on Tuesday.
Stewart's co-owner in the team, businessman Gene Haas, attended the press conference making the official announcement, along with Busch himself and SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli.
Good afternoon, everyone. Thank you very much for coming to today's announcement. We have three speakers, really wish we had four with Tony Stewart. He certainly wants to be here. Still recovering from his broken leg sustained August 5. Certainly wants to be here. We'll get him back out in front of you guys sooner rather than later.
First off, want to introduce everyone here. On the far left, Gene Haas, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing. Kurt Busch, driver of the Haas Automation Chevrolet beginning in 2014. And Greg Zipadelli, competition director of Stewart-Haas Racing.
Let's go ahead and get started.
Gene, you're expanding Stewart-Haas Racing to a four-car team in 2014 and you're doing with a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion in Kurt Busch. How did this all come about?
Well, it's been a story in the making. There was an opportunity to have Kurt Busch join us as the driver. I'm in this business to win races. I talked to Kurt Busch over the years. He's been kind of a favourite of mine. I see his on-track performance. I thought this was a great opportunity to pair him up with Haas Automation, for him to be the driver of my choice. It was an opportunity that I just felt was too great to pass up.
I bent a few rules, pushed, had some conversations with Kurt. Everything started to line up. We just needed to figure out how we're going to do this.
One of the biggest problems in any race team obviously is sponsorship. With the other three cars having their sponsorship pretty much filled up, it was an opportunity for Haas Automation to be a primary sponsor. In the past, I've always been a co-sponsor on the Stewart-Haas Racing team. That's a good position to be in. I have no problems with that. This is going to be my shot at being a primary sponsor, going to the Daytona 500, the Brickyard as the primary sponsor.
Haas Automation has never been in the winner's circle, and I'm sure that's going to change next year.
So that's my primary reason for basically pushing this expansion. It's been met with a little bit of resistance. We have a lot of great people here that are going to have to work hard to make this a reality, but there's a lot of enthusiasm with it. As a matter of fact, I think the enthusiasm has been overwhelming from both people outside Stewart-Haas Racing and inside. A lot of people are telling me this is great, they feel enthusiastic. Attitude is what wins races.
I'm happy we're doing this. I think it's going to be an exciting year. I'm looking forward to it.