© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 2003
HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. -- Matt Kenseth signed a long-term deal with Roush Racing on Monday, preventing what was expected to be a competitive free-agency chase.
Roush also signed Kurt Busch to a new deal, hours after it was announced that his brother Kyle would not sign with the company as planned when he turns 18 in May.
"All Roush Racing drivers are now signed for long-term periods, which will keep "Silly Season' disruptions to a minimum this year and allow all of our teams to focus solely on racing," Roush general manager Geoff Smith said.
Per NASCAR tradition, details of the contracts were not released. Kenseth and Kurt Busch are believed to have signed three-year deals.
Kenseth, the 2000 Winston Cup rookie of the year, won a series-high five races last season.
He was expected to be pursued by all the top teams in NASCAR when his contract expired at the end of this season, but he ended the process before it even began by re-signing with Roush just three days before heading to Daytona to begin preparations for the Feb. 16 season opener.
"Our team is really solid," Kenseth said. "Both (crew chief) Robbie (Reiser) and I have signed long-term contracts with Roush Racing because we know and appreciate that Jack Roush will provide us with everything we need to stay competitive."
Kurt Busch was the hottest driver on the circuit last season, his second in Winston Cup. He closed the year by winning three of the final races and four overall. He finished third in the final points standings and, like Kenseth and teammates Mark Martin and Jeff Burton, is considered a championship contender.
Kyle Busch, meanwhile, reneged on an oral agreement to join the Roush stable.
He was under contract with Roush in 2001, but the deal was voided when NASCAR passed a minimum-age requirement of 18 to race in any of its series. The plan was for Busch to re-sign after his birthday in May and begin running full time in the Trucks series.
BRAYTON OUT AT INDY?: It's unthinkable, but Brayton Racing, the open-wheel team from Coldwater, Mich., might miss its chance to run in the Indianapolis 500. Brayton, well known at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is short of sponsorship money, which has forced it to delay the purchase of a competitive engine and chassis package for the fast-approaching Indy Racing League season.