After 21 races, Kurt Busch sits 13th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series point standings. With five races remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup, he is just 11 points out of the 10th and final spot in the Chase.
Busch is currently driving on a one-year contract with Furniture Row Racing. If both parties are smart, the relationship will extend to 2014 and beyond.
There is no denying that RCR is a great organization, fielding championship-caliber teams in Sprint Cup, the Nationwide Series and the Camping World Truck Series. But for Kurt Busch, the perfect fit is Furniture Row Racing. It's a relationship that works and one that should not end after the 2013 season.
Following his dismissal from Penske Racing in 2011, Busch was unable to land with a top team for 2012. He instead spent the 2012 season driving for James Finch's Phoenix Racing team.
Busch competed for the underfunded operation in 29 events, but his No. 51 car had a primary sponsor for only four of them, according to Racing-Reference.info. The rest of the year was run with empty space on the hood and sides.
With Furniture Row Racing, Busch doesn't have to worry about securing sponsorship. The team is unique in that the primary sponsor owns the team, with Barney Visser owning both the Denver-based furniture empire and the Sprint Cup operation.
Sponsorship is the driving force behind auto racing, but especially the Sprint Cup Series. It is the reason why Kevin Harvick will replace Ryan Newman at Stewart-Haas Racing next year.
Having a sponsor that will never leave takes a great burden off the driver and allows Busch to concentrate on racing.
It's one of the reasons why Busch needs to stay.
Pursuing Other Interests
Two years ago, Kurt Busch made his NHRA debut, falling to Erica Enders in the first round of the Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.
Now, his attention has shifted to IndyCars. MRN's Dustin Long reported recently that there is a "good possibility" that Busch will compete in the IZOD IndyCar Series finale at Auto Club Speedway in October, with an eye toward competing in next year's Indianapolis 500.
Furniture Row Racing allowed Busch to take his Indianapolis rookie test earlier this year, and the team has given its driver leeway to pursue dreams outside of NASCAR.
But many of the sport's biggest teams would not be as receptive.
As reported by David Newton of ESPN.com, Kasey Kahne wanted to race in the 2011 IndyCar finale at Las Vegas, but he was shot down by car owner Rick Hendrick.
"I was absolutely thinking about it," Kahne said. "Mr. Hendrick didn't want me doing it...It just didn't work out."
Teams are likely to be even more protective of their star drivers after Tony Stewart suffered a broken leg in a sprint car accident earlier this week. His injury could sideline him for weeks, and it essentially ends his championship hopes for 2013.
But Furniture Row seems content with Busch's side projects. Owner Barney Visser reportedly gave Busch his "blessing" in May, according to Lee Spencer of FoxSports.com.
If Kurt Busch is serious about a run at the Indianapolis 500, teaming with Furniture Row Racing may be his only chance at making it a reality.
Above all else, Busch should stay at Furniture Row Racing because it gives him the best chance to win. Though the team has yet to break into Victory Lane this year, Busch has been close on several occasions, recording five top-five finishes, including a third place finish at Pocono.
Part of the reason for the team's success is its close alignment with Richard Childress Racing. Rea White of FoxSports.com reported before the season that despite the geographic challenges, the two teams are closely linked:
Furniture Row Racing and Richard Childress Racing are closely aligned this season – so much so that officials say the single-car operation is essentially a fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup team in the Childress’ empire.
With such a strong alliance, a move at Richard Childress Racing would be a lateral one.
The idea that a one-car team from Colorado is on the same level as RCR sounds crazy until you consider that Busch has the same number of top-five finishes as Kevin Harvick. And he has more top-five and top-10 finishes than Jeff Burton and Paul Menard combined, according to Racing-Reference.info.
Unless Rick Hendrick comes calling, there is no better opportunity in the garage than the one Busch currently has.
With Busch as the driver, Furniture Row Racing has gone from an also-ran to a contender. And with no pressure from a major sponsor, he is free to do what he does best: race. It's why Kurt Busch and Furniture Row Racing are the perfect fit—for 2014 and beyond.