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Kurt Busch still mum on switching NASCAR teams for 2019

Updated August 16, 2018 - 8:51 pm

If you think passing Kurt Busch is difficult on the racetrack, try getting him to talk about what NASCAR team he’ll be driving for next season.

According to industry sources, the 40-year-old veteran from Las Vegas may leave Stewart-Haas Racing at season’s end to replace Jamie McMurray at Chip Ganassi Racing.

Busch was in Las Vegas on Monday for a media opportunity. He was asked a number of times about switching teams. He smiled. He wouldn’t take the bait.

Not even when a Chicago Cubs analogy was used.

Busch is a devout Cubs fan, having thrown out multiple first pitches at Wrigley Field when NASCAR is racing at Chicagoland Speedway. It was pointed out that a change of scenery has done recent Chicago pitching acquisition Cole Hamels well. Might he benefit from one of those on the racetrack?

“Cole Hamels might not have been given respect, and a change of scenery might have been good for him,” said Busch, who has yet to win in 2018 but has been consistent and sits fourth in points behind NASCAR’s “Big 3” of younger brother Kyle Busch, SHR teammate Kevin Harvick and defending series champion Martin Truex Jr.

“I don’t know if that’s necessarily the case. It’s just a matter of finding a sweet spot.”

Busch, who has talked to a number of teams about next year — his personal services deal with series sponsor Monster Energy, combined with his skill behind the wheel makes him an attractive commodity — said it shouldn’t be long before he discloses where his sweet spot might be in 2019.

“I think there’s something right around the corner,” he said of an announcement. “But it’s still too early to tell.”

Talkin’ playoffs

Unlike a Jim Mora news conference, it’s time to talk NASCAR playoffs — playoffs?! — which for the first time will begin in Las Vegas.

NASCAR and Las Vegas Motor Speedway have announced major events coinciding with the inaugural South Point 400 weekend Sept. 14-16.

First up is a media day Sept. 13 at South Point, a portion of which will be open to fans, and featuring the 16 playoff drivers. That will be followed by burnouts on the Strip near Spring Mountain Avenue, mirroring a NASCAR Champion’s Week tradition.

On Saturday night, NASCAR young lions Ryan Blaney and Eric Jones will host a free playoffs party on Fremont Street at which country music artist Cole Swindell will perform.

Hitting the road (courses)

A week after making his NASCAR Cup Series debut with a 35th-place finish on the road course at Watkins Glen, Spencer Gallagher improved to eighth on the one at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course against Xfinity drivers.

Fellow Las Vegan Brendan Gaughan wound up 12th while also reporting for NBC Sports Network from the cockpit of the No. 3 Beard Oil/South Point Chevy, thus providing new depth to the term “roving reporter.”

Gaughan’s next NASCAR assignment will be as driver only. He and Xfinity Series points leader Christopher Bell will compete in the Star Nursery 100 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Sept. 13, kicking off South Point 400 weekend.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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