News and notes from the Sprint Media Tour

Jamey Price

A wrap-up of last week's NASCAR Sprint Media Tour with news and notes on Kurt Busch, Penske Racing, Chase Elliott's future plans and more.

When Kurt Busch signed a deal to drive for Furniture Row Racing, the assumption was that this was a one-year stopgap and that Busch would land with a bigger team for the 2014 season.

However, Busch said that isn't necessarily the case and that he is open to the idea of staying with the team past this season calling it a "strong option."

One of the appealing factors for Busch driving for Furniture Row is the close alliance the organization shares with Richard Childress Racing. While Furniture Row is technically a single-car team, the fact it receives cars and engines from RCR along with the sharing of data, makes Furniture Row more of a de facto fourth RCR team than a separate entity.

"We have a small boat that can navigate through the waters more quickly, versus a mothership like Hendrick or RCR," Busch said. "There, they have a lot of people and infrastructure, and it takes a lot of e-mails and meetings to make things move.

"We can take what we need from Childress and do our own little thing. It creates that lighter footstep where we can navigate more quickly. That's one of the upsides to being a small, competitive operation."

***

Sponsorship Roundup

A frequent topic of discussion throughout the Media Tour was sponsorship - who had it and who needed more of it.

Surprisingly, both Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas Racing still have available inventory for the coming season. Hendrick still has 13 races available on the side of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s car, while SHR has a combined 20 races to fill among the cars of Tony Stewart, Danica Patrick and Ryan Newman.

But not every team is in the same boat as Hendrick and SHR.

One such organization is Penske Racing, as the defending Cup champions announced an extension with Shell/Pennzoil.

According to The Sports Business Journal, the contract runs through the 2018 season - an almost unprecedented length in today's economic climate - and calls for the company to be the primary sponsor in 33 races.

Furthermore, Penske also announced that Hertz will sponsor Joey Logano in one Cup race and a total of seven Nationwide Series races with Logano, Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney sharing driving duties.

In other sponsorship news, Richard Petty Motorsports announced that Smithfield Foods has upped the number of races it will sponsor the No. 43 car of Aric Almirola, from 18 to 25. Also, Earnhardt Ganassi Racing revealed that Cessna would be the primary sponsor for Jamie McMurray in 10 events.

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Chase Elliott to Make Truck Series Debut

One of the more talented drivers working their way up through the NASCAR feeder system is Chase Elliott. And the 17-year-old son of former Cup champion Bill Elliott will take the next step in his blossoming career when he makes his Truck Series debut this season in an entry fielded by Hendrick Motorsports.

"Chase, to me, his pedigree and the way he handles himself, his professionalism really attracted me as much as watching him run those Late Models," Rick Hendrick told Fox Sports. "When you can run wheel to wheel with Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin and actually beat them, or run 30 laps with Kyle and hold your own and you're 15- or 14-years-old, you've got a lot ahead of you."

Elliott's first truck race will come April 6 at Martinsville, in addition to both races at Iowa, he will be behind the wheel at the fall event at Martinsville as well as the races at Rockingham, Bristol, Dover, Bristol, Phoenix and the Mosport road course.

The truck will carry No. 94 and will have primary sponsorship from Aaron's. Additionally, Elliott will also make five starts in the ARCA Series.

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