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Is 2019 Kurt Busch's last season in NASCAR?

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing parted ways over the winter, leading the 2004 Cup champion to accept a one-year deal in Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 1 for this season. It marks the third straight season that Busch, 40, has driven on a one-year contract in the Cup series, and he’s made no efforts to hide the fact that it could be his last.

“I had always talked about 2019 and it being my 20th full-time year — that’s a number I had in my mind,” Busch says. “But anytime you get an opportunity like [Ganassi], and now seeing everybody on the shop floor, you don’t know what is around the next corner as far as motivation and challenges.”

It’s certainly not a matter of age for Busch. He’ll be 41 years old when the checkered flag falls after the season finale in November at Homestead-Miami Speedway — that’s still younger than Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson or Ryan Newman. And it’s currently not about performance, either. Last season, Busch made the third round of the playoffs, scored a win and notched the third-best average running position in Cup.

When announcing the Ganassi deal, Busch said early performance this season could swing his decision on next season.

“If we come out of the gate gangbusters and we’ve got five wins by July Daytona, well, let’s talk about 2020,” Busch said.

That idea spurred a reaction from Ganassi as he sat next to Busch. 

“Let me add something: If we win five races by July, it is going to be an automatic [renewal], okay? I’m going to make a contract change right now,” Ganassi said, laughing.