DENVER (AP) — Kurt Busch is ready for yet another new ride.
Furniture Row Racing hired Busch on Monday to drive for the Colorado-based team in 2013. Busch will replace Regan Smith in the No. 78 Chevrolet.
Busch was the 2004 NASCAR champion, but he split with Penske Racing at the end of last season because of his many off-track incidents. He spent this season driving for Phoenix Racing in the Sprint Cup series and his brother's Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Nationwide Series, where he won twice.
The 34-year-old Busch has said his goal this season was to prove he deserved a chance with another top-tier team. With so few seats available, Furniture Row became the best option.
Busch will drive for his third team in three years when he takes the wheel for Furniture Row.
"Though we have made strides as a resourceful single-car Sprint Cup team, we are not where we want to be, which led us to the difficult decision of making a driver change as we move forward," said Furniture Row Racing's general manager Joe Garone. "Kurt's exceptional driving talent has the capacity to take a team to another level. We look forward to having Kurt join our Denver-based organization and feel his racing experience will play an important role as we plan ahead to 2013."
Busch has won 24 Sprint Cup races, as well as the 2010 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race.
"Furniture Row Racing has the commitment, talent and resources to compete at a high level in the Sprint Cup Series," Busch said. "I have watched with admiration on how this team has grown over the years and that is why I am excited about the opportunity as I eagerly look forward to a new chapter in my racing career."
Busch is 25th in the points standings and has only one top-five finish in the Cup series this season. He served a one-week NASCAR suspension in June after for verbally abusing a media member.
Busch was already on probation from an incident at Darlington in May — he was also fined $50,000 for reckless driving on pit road — and NASCAR decided his treatment to the reporter was in violation of his probation.
Busch said he just wanted to have some fun driving the No. 51 for Phoenix while he rebuilt his image in the hope he could return to a top-tier organization next season.
Busch parted ways with Penske Racing in the offeseason after six bumpy seasons. Busch was fired in the fallout of yet another embarrassing incident. A fan caught Busch on video verbally abusing an ESPN reporter during last month's season finale, and Busch was fined $50,000 by NASCAR after the clip was posted on YouTube.
Smith, who is 23rd in the points standings, has no top-fives and only two top-10 finishes this season. He has Furniture Row's only Cup race victory, winning in 2011 at Darlington Raceway.
"As our team driver the past four years, Regan has represented Furniture Row Racing with both class and competitiveness," Garone said. "He is a friend, and will always be a friend of Furniture Row Racing. We wish him all the best."
Just not with Furniture Row.
The 34-year-old Busch qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship six times in the last nine years and won his lone Cup championship in only his third full season in the series.