Furniture Row Racing has announced that Kurt Busch will replace Regan Smith in the team’s #78 Chevrolet from Charlotte onwards. Busch, who was offered a lifeline by James Finch and Phoenix Racing after his public sacking by Roger Penske last year, will do the full 2013 season with the Colorado-based outfit, which has a technical alliance with Richard Childress Racing.
“Furniture Row Racing has the commitment, talent and resources to compete at a high level in the Sprint Cup Series,” he said.
“I have watched with admiration how this team has grown over the years and that is why I am excited about the opportunity as I eagerly look forward to a new chapter in my racing career.”
Busch has found the going tough this year. Even with financial support from powerhouse team Hendrick Motorsports, Phoenix runs on a very limited budget and its unsponsored #51 Chevrolet Impala has seen little development. Apart from a heroic third place finish at theSonoma road course, the 2004 champion has only one other top-10 finish this season, while an off-camera spat with a journalist did him few favours.
He is now hoping for a fresh start with the Furniture Row team, which he believes “have not reached their full potential” and hopes to build a solid platform beneath him before the 2013 season kicks off in February.
“I can’t wait to get in the car and deliver and we’re going to start that process this year, so that’s great, to get a jump on 2013,” said Busch.
“That way we don’t go to Daytona with the deer-in-the-headlights feel. We’re going to get all the bugs worked out of the way, the nuances, the operating procedures, the trips back and forth to Denver, all these.”
Furniture Row General Manager Joe Garone paid tribute to Smith, who took the team’s first win at Darlington last year.
“As our team driver the past four years, Regan has represented Furniture Row Racing with both class and competitiveness. His win at Darlington in 2011 – the first for Furniture Row Racing – will be a memory forever etched in our organisation’s history.
“He is a friend, and will always be a friend of Furniture Row Racing. We wish him all the best.”
Speaking on SPEED Race Hub, Smith admitted that his future is unclear but that he may accept a move to a race-winning NASCAR Nationwide team, a move which has worked well for Elliott Sadler and Sam Hornish Jr. in recent years.