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Rumours connect Kurt Busch to Stewart-Haas for 2014

"Obviously, there's options out there," said Zipadelli when asked if the team had offered Busch a ride for next season. "We're looking at everything that's there. There is nothing done."

Zipadelli was twice pressed to comment further about whether the team was in discussions with Busch, and he deflected the question back to the matter in hand on both occasions: "Like I said, we've got two big things going on here right now with the #39 having an opportunity to make the Chase and getting Mark Martin over here, get him acclimated with the guys and how we do things and heading to Bristol. We'll take it week by week."

SHR spokesman Mike Arning was similarly vague when addressing the topic. "Stewart-Haas Racing constantly strives to improve itself, and expansion is something that is often discussed,” he said in a team statement. “If the right opportunity presents itself, it's something the team will certainly consider."

The team made clear that if anyone was under consideration for a possible fourth car it was Busch and only Busch and that no other drivers were being considered - not even Newman, who is yet to confirm his own plans for 2014.

One possibility is that rather than a fourth car, SHR might be concerned about just how quickly Tony Stewart will be able to return to full-time Cup competition after breaking his right tibia and fibula in a regional winged sprint car race in Southern Iowa two weeks ago. The team has already stated that Stewart will not be back in the car this year, but there appear to be lingering doubts over whether he will even be race-fit in time for the Daytona 500 in February 2014 let alone all the pre-season testing and development activity.

"We expect a full recovery by Daytona or close to it," was the best Zipedelli could offer at this point. "It's a bad break to the leg, and he needs time to go through the process of healing, rehabilitation, all those things."

However, it's highly unlikely that a short-term stand-in role would satisfy Busch. The 35-year-old originally born and raised in Las Vegas has had a tempestuous Cup career, with an acrimonious split with Roush Fenway at the end of 2005 in order to join Penske Racing, which itself came to an end "by mutual agreement" after a frustrating 2011 season saw him in some public rows with team owner Roger Penske as well as a falling out with respected EPSN pit lane reporter Dr Jerry Punch at the season finale at Homestead-Miami.

That left Busch without a seat for 2012 and had many wondering whether the former Cup champion would ever find his way back to a competitive car in the future, after appearing to have become something of a media liability. He resorted to agreeing to drive for James Finch's appropriately-named Phoenix Racing team and to a stint in the Nationwide Series for his brother Kyle's new team, and immediately started to remind observers of his undoubted driving talent which saw him cherry-picked by Furniture Row Racing to replace Regan Smith in the #78 in 2013.

Busch could well decide to stay put with the team next season: “It's cool to have talks with Furniture Row about what we can do in 2014 and beyond," Busch said.

But getting within reach of being in the Chase, and moreover looking as though he's purged some of those hot-headed demons that had been plaguing him in his final year at Penske, has made Busch once again an appealing prospect for many of the big teams - although a return to the likes of Roush Fenway or Penske is highly unlikely given the circumstances of his departure from both.




Related Pictures

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Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick of Stewart Haas Racing on January 21, 2013 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jamey Price/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway on June 2, 2013 in Dover, Delaware. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)  (Photo Credit: Rob Carr/Getty Images)
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Kurt Busch, driver of NASCAR Sprint Cup #78 Furniture Row/Sealy Chevrolet SS, posted the second-fastest time of 111.297 seconds and average speed of 144.068 mph Friday, May 17, 2013 to earn a front row position for the 29th NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Saturday at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Chevrolet)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #78 Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23, 2013 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, July 27, 2014 the Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gordon, who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings, has won at the Brickyard a record 5 times, the first one in 1994. (Photo by Christa L. Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, races to win Sunday, July 27, 2014 the Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gordon, who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings, has won at the Brickyard a record 5 times, the first one in 1994. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, celebrates his win Sunday, July 27, 2014 of the Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gordon, who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings, has won at the Brickyard a record 5 times, the first one in 1994. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet SS, kisses the Brick after his win Sunday, July 27, 2014 of the Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. Gordon, who leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings, has won at the Brickyard a record 5 times, the first one in 1994. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates by kissing the bricks after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, leads a pack of cars into the pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, races the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag for the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Crown Royal Presents The John Wayne Walding 400 at the Brickyard Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 27, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #54 Monster Energy Toyota, and Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Resers Toyota, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series Lilly Diabetes 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26, 2014 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo Credit: Andy Lyons/NASCAR via Getty Images)
The Richard Childress Racing #3 Chevrolet Nationwide Series car driven by Ty Dillon. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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