Kurt Busch will be switching teams at the end of the season again as Furniture Row Racing announced Monday that he would be behind the wheel of its No. 78 Chevy in 2013 replacing Regan Smith.
"Though we have made strides as a resourceful single-car Sprint Cup team, we are not where we want to be, which led us to the difficult decision of making a driver change as we move forward," Furniture Row Racing general manager Joe Garone said in a release. "Kurt's exceptional driving talent has the capacity to take a team to another level. We look forward to having Kurt join our Denver-based organization and feel his racing experience will play an important role as we plan ahead to 2013."
[Chase Power Rankings: Cue the Imperial March]
After parting ways with Penske Racing after a tumultuous end to the 2011 season, Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, has spent this year at Phoenix Racing and is currently 25th in the points standings. He was suspended earlier in the season for the Sprint Cup Series' first race at Pocono for berating a reporter, an incident similar to the ones that helped lead to his departure from Penske in 2011 when he tore a reporter's transcript in half at Richmond and cussed out another at Homestead.
Running mostly sponsorless for one-car Phoenix Racing this season, Busch has two top 10s this season; his highest finish is third place at Sonoma and he's currently 25th in the points standings. Smith is two spots higher in 23rd, and would still be ahead of Busch in the standings if Busch had run the full season. Phoenix Racing gets both engines and chassis from Hendrick Motorsports while Furniture Row has an alliance with Richard Childress Racing.
Smith has been with the team since 2009 and won the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington.
Garone had expressed interest earlier in the season about adding Busch to a second car at Furniture Row, with the mandatory caveat being if sponsorship could be found. Last week at Chicago, Busch and Garone expressed mutual interest and Smith said he didn't believe he'd be back with the team. On the flip side, Phoenix owner James Finch has mentioned the possibility of shutting his team down at the end of the season if it doesn't have sponsorship for next year.
So do you think Busch will crack the top 20 next year with his new team or have a shot at the Chase? Or will his performance improve at all? Drop us a line in the comments.
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