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Kurt Busch Getting Comfortably Acclimated to His New Team

LAS VEGAS, NV – JANUARY 31: Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Monster Energy/Haas Automation Ford looks over his vehicle in the garage during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series testing at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on January 31, 2018 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by David Becker/Getty Images for NASCAR)

By Toby Christie         

Kurt Busch heads into the twilight of his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career driving for a new team. Thursday, the 2004 Cup Series champion got a chance to get behind the wheel and get familiar with his new race team at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Busch found himself at the negotiation table with Chip Ganassi Racing after complicated contract talks throughout 2018 stalled out toward the end of the season and early portions of the off-season. As Busch evaluated his other driving options, it didn’t take long to find the place he wanted to drive.

“I really enjoyed the contract negotiation with Chip. It took about 30 minutes. We were done and we were off to the race track,” Busch said. “It was tough trying to find the right balance with the contract before.”

As Busch and the No. 1 team rolled into the LVMS garage area, the focus wasn’t on being the fastest car on the track. Instead, as Busch began to tighten his seat belts for Thursday’s organizational test the focus were on simple little details which will ultimately lead to a comfortable season for the driver.

“It’s been a good start for us on the Ganassi team,” Busch explained after the first drafting session of the day. “For us, we were just trying to do a lot of checklist items to make sure that we were getting up to speed as far as our communication and all of the little checkmark items as far as switching teams as far as seat, mirror a lot of little things we were working on this morning.”

Busch and his team gained speed as they began to gel and the day moved forward. A lot of the speed had to do with Busch getting through the steep learning curve of a dramatically new rules package that NASCAR will be using in 2019.

“This new package, the way it drives is as radically different as when we switched to the car of tomorrow back in 2008,” stated Busch. “That’s how much of a dramatic difference it is. It’s a lot to adjust to.”

Although the new package is about as different as it gets for the veteran, the entire CGR team rallied around Busch on Thursday in an attempt to hit the ground running once the 2019 season actually gets started.

“It’s a good start. Matt McCall is a great crew chief. Our engineering staff, we have everybody here. Even Kyle Larson’s team, his crew chief Chad Johnston he’s here. A big hybrid group of all the guys from Ganassi. Trying to collect data and work on this package.”

The driver comes into his 19th full-time season in the Cup Series with 30-career wins. Busch has also won at least one race in each of the last five seasons. He will set his sights on continuing that trend this season.

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