Stewart-Haas Racing 'fully expects' Kurt Busch back with team in 2019

FORT WORTH, TX – FEBRUARY 28: Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing answers questions from the media at Media Day at Texas Motor Speedway on February 28, 2018 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

Kurt Busch’s contract with Stewart-Haas Racing expires at the end of the 2018 season. And the team said Wednesday it “fully expects” Busch to return in 2019.

The team issued the statement — a statement issued just six races into the 36-race season — to the Sports Business Journal on Wednesday evening.

“SHR fully expects to have Kurt Busch back in its No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford in 2019 and has had no other conversations regarding the No. 41 team.”

Busch signed a one-year extension of sorts with the team after the 2017 season. We say “of sorts” because the team said it wouldn’t be picking Busch’s contract option during the season but Busch re-signed with the team in December.

Busch joined Stewart-Haas Racing before the 2014 season when the team expanded to four full-time cars. He’s made the playoffs in each of his four seasons with the team and has won five races, including the 2017 Daytona 500.

But the “industry rumblings” have come at a time where NASCAR teams have turned to younger (and cheaper) drivers. At 39, Busch is one of the older drivers in the series and his 2004 championship is now the least recent title won by an active driver.

Plus Stewart-Haas would have a potential in-house replacement for Busch if it wanted to go in that direction for 2019. Cole Custer is in his second year driving for the team’s Xfinity Series team and won the 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Custer made his Cup Series debut at Las Vegas earlier this season and finished 25th.

– – – – – – –

Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.

More from Yahoo Sports:
Declining an honor, ex-NFL player tells a grim story
Seahawks cut backup QB after brutal assault allegations
Protesters in Sacramento again force lockdown of Kings arena
Spurs’ Popovich calls out Trump for ‘cowardice’ on guns