The Kyle Busch free agency saga is rapidly reaching its conclusion, and it appears his days at Joe Gibbs Racing are numbered. According to multiple reports from Jeff Gluck and Jordan Bianchi of the Athletic, and Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports, his new home is decided. That being with Richard Childress Racing, something unimaginable just a decade ago. With the announcement likely happening in the coming days, here’s what it means for Rowdy Busch.
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Nail in the Coffin
What ultimately brought us to this point was something that happened in December of last year. Mars Inc; most notably the parent company behind M&M’s as well as several other sponsors of Busch, announced their plans to leave NASCAR at the end of 2022. Massive news from the standpoint that M&M’s has been a staple sponsor in the sport since the 1990s. This ultimately wasn’t the only factor in Busch leaving Gibbs, but it certainly didn’t help.
In fairness to JGR, they did actively look for a replacement for M&M’s and the heap of other Mars products that make up Busch’s sponsors. They ended up in negotiations with Oracle, the Texas-based tech company which serves as Red Bull F1’s title sponsor. Those talks ended up breaking down (go figure), and that is what ultimately opened things up.
While nothing is set in stone, this feels like the next move for JGR is promoting Ty Gibbs up to Cup for 2023. Since filling in for Kurt Busch at 23XI, he has done nothing but impress. So far, three top 15s headlined by a 10th at Michigan. They could do a lot worse at this juncture. However, losing Busch is gigantic for Toyota. By all accounts, he has been the face of the brand in American Motorsports for nearly 15 years on the dot. That doesn’t even take into account his work with Kyle Busch Motorsports either.
New Home for the Kyle Busch Show™
If you told someone right after Busch and Richard Childress got into a fight at Kansas in 2011 that the latter would hire the former, the reaction would be something. Even funnier is that NASCAR is at Kansas this week, making this a full-circle moment. There are now some key questions regarding Busch and this big move. Firstly, what will his new number be? According to Pockarass, Rowdy will be in the No. 8 car, but many (me) are holding out hope for Busch to end up in the No. 3. That has been a meme in the NASCAR fandom for years and there is now a chance to make that reality.
The next question relates to the current driver of the No. 8 car Tyler Reddick; what does this mean for him? We know he is slated for 23XI in 2024, but RCR is strictly a two-car team at the moment. Should they not acquire another charter, we could be looking at a scenario akin to Clint Bowyer’s transition to SHR. Take a bridge deal with another team before getting to the intended spot. Lots of moving parts not just with RCR, but with several other teams, so a lot is on the table.
Finally, what does the future hold for Kyle Busch Motorsports? Busch himself said earlier on Saturday, “I’m not comfortable with where that’s at yet.” Later on, he said that “We will certainly keep fighting for that to make sure that KBM is at the forefront, and we have a place to go race trucks next year.” You would have to think that if this deal is set, KBM should be fine. However, what the manufacturer switch does to the driver lineup is TBD.
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