Report: Stewart-Haas Racing declines to pick up Kurt Busch's 2018 option


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Defending Daytona 500 winner and former series champion Kurt Busch did not have his contract option for 2018 picked up by Stewart-Haas Racing, Motorsport.com and NBC Sports reported on Tuesday.

SHR responded in a tweet: “We don’t comment on contract status, but we expect @KurtBusch back in our @MonsterEnergy / @Haas_Automation Ford in ’18. Just sayin’.”

An email request for further information referred back to the tweet.

The SHR response does allow for both sides of the story to be correct if the team intends to allow him to become a free agent as it attempts to renegotiate a new deal.

Busch’s No. 41 Ford is sponsored by Monster Energy, which became title sponsor of NASCAR’s top series this season, at a cost more in line with the price of sponsoring a competitive car than the type Sprint agreed to as the previous title sponsor. The company could consider two sponsorships superfluous.

Busch joined Stewart-Haas Racing ahead the 2014 season. SHR had until midnight to renew the option.

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Mitch Covington, Monster vice president of sports marketing, declined comment to USA TODAY Sports.

Busch had said on June 29 he had “no worries,” adding “I know that they’re working with NASCAR, Monster Energy is trying to sort out issues with NASCAR … so there are a lot of moving parts, but I don’t feel any fear whatsoever. I actually feel very confident in the sponsorship that I bring, Ford Performance’s involvement with Stewart-Haas and how I’ve blended in with this team. I feel great.’’

Busch, who won the 2004 Cup title, joins Matt Kenseth as a former series champion without a ride for 2018.

Follow James on Twitter @brantjames

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