Stewart-Haas Racing formally announced on Tuesday that it will expand to a four-car team and Kurt Busch will be added to the driver lineup for the 2014 season.
SHR co-owner Gene Haas and team competition director Greg Zipadelli introduced Busch during a press conference at the team's headquarters. Driver/owner Tony Stewart was not present, as he continues to recuperate from a broken right leg that he suffered in an accident during a sprint car race earlier this month in Iowa.
Busch, the 2004 champion in NASCAR's premier series, will become teammates with Stewart, Danica Patrick and Kevin Harvick, who is leaving Richard Childress Racing to join SHR at the end of this season. Busch's team will be sponsored full-time by Haas' company, Haas Automation.
For several weeks, there had been wide speculation that Busch would drive for SHR's new fourth team next year.
"It's been a story in the making," Haas said. "There was an opportunity to have Kurt Busch join us as the driver of the Haas Automation Chevy. I'm in this business to win races. I've talked with Kurt over the years, and he's kind of been a favorite of mine. I see his on-track performance. I thought this was a great opportunity to pair him up with Haas Automation and for him to be the driver of my choice. It was an opportunity that I just felt was too great to pass up."
Busch, who is driving the No. 78 Chevrolet for Furniture Row Racing this season, has scored 24 wins, 95 top-five finishes, 185 top-10 finishes and 16 poles in 459 career Sprint Cup starts. He is currently 12th in the standings, just six points behind 10th-place Joey Logano. Busch is hoping to make championship Chase for the seventh time. Just two races remain before the Chase begins.
"The excitement is just at an all-time high," Busch said. "To be in this position, it's amazing to have Gene Haas call you up and say, 'Hey, let's go do this. Let's go try to win some races together'."
While sponsorship for Busch's team next year has been announced, the car number of his Chevrolet will be revealed at a later date. Last month, SHR announced that Harvick will drive the No. 4 car next season.
"We haven't come to a decision on a car number," Busch said. "It's obviously Gene's team, and Tony Stewart is the car owner. They've given me some input on what they would like, and they've actually been open to what I would like. My little eight-year-old (stepson), Houston, said, 'Put 360 on the door.' And I said, 'Why 360?' He said, 'Because you've come full-circle'."
Since its debut at the start of the 2009 season, SHR has accumulated 19 wins in Sprint Cup. Ryan Newman drove to victory in last month's Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Two weeks prior to Indy, it was announced that Newman would not be back with SHR next year.
"If you look back at (Busch's) record and look at the competitiveness that he carries within him, and he'll demand from everybody here at SHR, I think it will push us to new heights," Zipadelli said. "Along with Kevin coming and Tony, that's a dream come true as far as having a driver lineup. Danica, going into her second full year, will have those three guys to be able to lean on and hopefully help her. We'll have something special here with these three guys and Danica."
SHR also announced that work has already begun on the physical expansion of the team's headquarters. Land adjacent to its existing 140,000-square foot facility is being cleared for construction of a building that will house research and development as well as a fitness and training center and multipurpose space for SHR partners.