Kurt Busch's move to Furniture Row Racing in the Sprint Cup Series will come sooner than originally planned.
Busch, the 2004 series champion, will replace Regan Smith in Furniture Row's No. 78 Chevrolet for the final six races this season. He will take over driving duties for the team beginning with the Oct. 13 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Smith's last race with the Furniture Row will be Oct. 7 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Joe Garone, Furniture Row Racing's general manager, and Busch made the announcement on Friday at Dover International Speedway, the site of this weekend's Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races.
Earlier this week, Furniture Row announced that Busch had signed a contract with the team to drive the No. 78 for the 2013 season. However, the team decided to accelerate their preparations for next year by having Busch drive the car at Charlotte, Kansas (Oct. 21), Martinsville (Oct. 28), Texas (Nov. 4), Phoenix (Nov. 11) and the season-finale at Homestead (Nov. 18).
"This is a partnership that puts two programs together, such as myself and Furniture Row, on the same page to move the needle," Busch said. "We all want to go out there and try to win races, and we want to try to compete at top levels. You need teams, drivers and engineering support. You need all different elements of a program to be competitive."
Busch has driven the No. 51 Chevrolet for Phoenix Racing since the start of the 2012 season. It's been a turbulent year for Busch, though. The 34-year-old driver almost lost his ride with James Finch's team after NASCAR officials banned him from competing in the June 10 race at Pocono. Officials determined he violated his probation when he made threatening comments to a reporter from The Sporting News following the completion of the June 2 Nationwide Series event at Dover. He had been on probation for an incident that occurred with Ryan Newman's team last month at Darlington.
Busch said he is looking forward to his new ride with Furniture Row. He referred to the Denver, Colo.-based team as "a diamond in the rough."
"This program is undiscovered, and they have not reached their full potential," Busch noted. "I see this from Joe Garone and (team owner) Barney Visser, and I see this from Todd Berrier, a crew chief who has been in this sport for nearly 20 years."
Two months ago, Berrier left Bobby Labonte's No. 47 team at JTG Daugherty Racing and moved over to Furniture Row where he replaced Pete Rondeau as crew chief for the No. 78.
Busch has recorded 24 wins and 171 top-10 finishes in 427 starts in NASCAR's premier series. His most recent victory came at Dover one year ago when he drove for Penske Racing. Busch is currently 25th in the point standings.
Smith has driven for Furniture Row since 2009. He gave the team its first Sprint Cup win in May 2011 at Darlington Raceway. Smith is presently 23rd in points, with just two top-10 finishes for the season.
"In the progress of growing the Furniture Row team over the years, we've met some milestones trying to get where we are at, taking advantage of opportunities as they come up, and this is certainly an opportunity that we're really excited to have Kurt on board moving forward here," Garone said.
Smith's contract with Furniture Row was set to expire at the end of this season. Garone stated that his contract will be fully honored.