Budweiser, Hendrick discuss future
TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Hendrick Motorsports general manager Marshall Carlson has talked with Anheuser Busch officials about the possibility of Budweiser becoming a team sponsor after this season, team owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday.
Budweiser is looking for a new partner after its contract expires with Kasey Kahne and Richard Petty Motorsports after this season. Kahne, who recently signed a contract with HMS to replace Mark Martin in the No. 5 in 2012 and a car to be determined in 2011, has said he would like to continue his relationship with Budweiser if possible.
There were reports that HMS could not bring in Budweiser because of the team's relationship with longtime sponsor Pepsi, but Hendrick said that "depends on which car it's on."
"In our deals we have rights of first refusal," Hendrick said. "We've got to go through that, but we're talking to anybody."
Hendrick would be willing to supply Martin with engines and chassis if Martin decides to go into ownership. Martin recently said he would consider becoming an owner if he could find a deal like the one Tony Stewart got with Gene Haas.
Stewart, who receives engines and chassis from HMS, was given 50 percent of the Haas organization in exchange for driving and running the racing side of the team.
"I'd be open to anything Mark wants to do," Hendrick said. "He talked about a long time ago about wanting to own a truck [team]. I never heard him say anything about a car until [now]."
James Finch reportedly is interested in selling a portion of ownership in Phoenix Racing, which won the 2009 spring race at Talladega with Brad Keselowski in a car with a HMS chassis and engine.
Hendrick said he hasn't talked with Martin about that, but he'd be willing to supply engines and chassis "for anybody in the garage area that wants to buy them."
Hendrick said there is nothing new to report on where Kahne will drive next season, saying he's busy with preparing his new museum at HMS and likely won't get anything done until after the May race at Charlotte.
Hendrick also said he is days from announcing contract extensions for crew chiefs Alan Gustafson and Chad Knaus.
Hendrick has been working on an extension with Knaus since late last season, when driver Jimmie Johnson agreed to a deal to drive at Hendrick Motorsports through 2015. The driver and crew chief have won a NASCAR record four consecutive championships together.
Gustafson is currently crew chief for Martin in the No. 5 car. Kahne has already agreed to drive that car in 2012, but Hendrick says he has not yet determined his crew chief lineup.
The owner did say, though, that the No. 5 team belongs to Gustafson -- the first indication that he could be paired with Kahne.
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.