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Co-owner Gene Haas sold Tony Stewart on adding Kurt Busch for 2014

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2013

So, why did Kurt Busch suddenly end up at Stewart-Haas Racing?

The short answer: Because co-owner Gene Haas said so and was willing to make it happen.

The longer, and perhaps even more interesting answer, includes the unexpected disclosure during a news conference Tuesday that co-owner Tony Stewart was not sold on the decision initially for SHR to expand to four Sprint Cup Series teams for 2014.

“This was just an opportunity. I have the ability to react quick. I reacted quick. This is something as an owner and also as a sponsor, it’s something I wanted to do. That’s why I did it,” said Haas, who will fund the team through his Haas Automation company.

And as for Stewart’s initial objections?

“I don’t think Tony was exactly enthralled with what I did. But I think he saw it my way, you know. Either that or get out of the building,” Haas said before laughing.

“Anyway, he has a lot of power. I have to admit, you know, I have some power, too. I think in a sense it’s a check-and-balance system where the two powers balance each other out.”

Haas confirmed the organization will need another building, but that likely is not to be completed before the middle of next season. In the meantime, it will have to make some accommodations to host the teams of Busch, Stewart, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick in 2014.

“We’re not sure how we’re all going to lay all that out,” said Greg Zipadelli, SHR’s competition director. “That’s kind of the stuff we’re going through now, designing that. But it will be tight for a little bit. We’ll prioritize what we need to work on.”

Zipadelli said he didn’t think it would be a problem finding quality personnel to work on Busch’s team.

“There are people out there looking for jobs. The amount of résumés that I’ve gotten in the last week since this has kind of broke has been unbelievable,” he said. “There’s a lot of great people out there.”

No car number has been assigned to Busch’s team. However, sources said the organization is attempting to secure No. 00, a number used by Haas CNC Racing, the predecessor to SHR.

While Haas has been either owner or co-owner of the organization since its inception, Tuesday’s announcement seemed to signal the start of a far more visible role for Haas.

“I think the most interesting thing was the fact that Kurt Busch and Haas Automation coming together was really done by me. I guess that is different than what you’ve seen in the past,” Haas said. “In that respect, yes, there’s going to be new dynamics.

“My main goal here is to win races. I think Tony’s main goal is not only to win races but to run a successful business. I’m more interested in seeing the winning part of it. Maybe Tony is going to be more the businessman now.”

Larson to Cup: Earnhardt Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will move 21-year-old upstart Kyle Larson to the Cup series fulltime into its No.42 Chevrolet for 2014, multiple sources confirmed to the Observer and (Raleigh) News & Observer.

An official news conference is scheduled Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Reached by phone, a team spokesman declined comment.

Larson is in his first full season in the Nationwide Series, where he is eighth in points.

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