The reports and speculation were true: Kurt Busch was unveiled Tuesday as the newest signing of the Stewart-Haas Racing team, putting him alongside Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick.
"That's the most exciting phone call you could ever receive," said Busch when asked about the moment he'd been approached by the team. "There's a thousand guys they could have called and I'm glad they called me."
The formal press conference unveiling the multi-year deal took place at SHR's headquarters at Kannapolis North Caroline, where work is already underway to expand the team's existing 140,000-square foot facility to accommodate a four-car line-up.
Only a few weeks ago as he announced that the team was letting Ryan Newman go at the end of the current season, team co-owner Tony Stewart had said that a four-car operation simply wasn't on the cards in the near future. But it turned out that with Stewart currently sidelined with a serious double fracture of his right leg, it was his partner in the team who made the solo decision to make a play for Busch.
"I kind of did this on my own, probably overstepped my authority a tick there," conceded multi-millionaire businessman Gene Haas. "Tony broke his leg, I didn't have really a chance to talk to Tony about it at all since he wasn't really talking to anybody.
"I've been pretty much on my own. I did realize that Tony might be a little bit upset about it. He was, he was a little upset," Haas admitted. "At first he said, 'Oh, wow, we can't really do this because this is going to be too much of a load on the team, we're not prepared for it, we don't have the space.'
"He actually is an astute businessman. He thought about all these little things, where are we going to get the people, the money, where are the buildings going to come from. I didn't think about any of that," Haas confessed. "I think he actually said, 'You need to wait a while.' I kind of made an offer to Kurt here, I don't know if he's going to take it or not, and if he takes it, I'm not backing down. That's where we were.
"Like I say, I don't think Tony was exactly enthralled with what I did. But I think he saw it my way, you know - either that or get out of the building," he laughed. "Anyway, he has a lot of power. I have to admit, you know, I have some power, too. I think in a sense it's a check-and-balance system where the two powers balance each other out.
"I think, you know, initially since it wasn't Tony's idea, he was taken aback a little bit by it. But I think he saw it wasn't a bad idea. In retrospect it looks like it's going to be a great idea. If we don't win any races next year, hey, I'm going to look like an idiot!"