Kyle Busch’s tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing will end after the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. Looking back, how hard did the team try to hold him back?
When the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season rolls around, fans will see two of this year’s playoff drivers driving a new car.
After 15 years, Kyle Busch will no longer drive the #18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). He will move to the #8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing (RCR), rejoining the manufacturer with whom he began his Cup career. Tyler Reddick, the current driver of the #8 Chevrolet, is set to move on to a third entry from Richard Childress Racing.
A lack of sponsorship was reportedly the biggest factor in Busch’s free agency process and the lack of a deal with Joe Gibbs Racing, with partner M&M’s set to leave the sport after a relationship spanning more than three decades. .
While JGR tried to sign Oracle to sponsor the two-time Cup Series champion, the deal fell through, and the Toyota organization felt comfortable letting Busch sign with another team that could compile a portfolio of sponsors.
With an obvious replacement for Ty Gibbs, grandson of JGR team owner Joe Gibbs, waiting in the wings, there are questions about whether or not JGR tried to keep Busch as much as they led.
Given the approaches both teams took to signing the same driver, one seemed that much more eager to get Busch.
Last month, just before the official announcement that Busch would be moving to RCR, it was reported that the team’s sponsors were eager to work with the 37-year-old.
While the sponsorship of the #8 Chevrolet has yet to be announced, the idea that the companies weren’t willing to sign the veteran to JGR, but were willing to sign him to the new team, is intriguing.
While the budget might have allowed the Chevrolet team to consider more options than JGR, its open-minded approach was in stark contrast to JGR’s.
A tough business move now sets Busch in a direction to show JGR what he’ll miss out on for years to come, and raises questions about how hard the organization really tried to keep him.
Busch said it became clear at some point that the #18 Toyota was not an option for him in 2023, and since that decision came well before the end of the season, it appears JGR was comfortable letting him go.
Time will tell who really made the right call, but for now, it seems the team didn’t try as hard to keep the Las Vegas, Nevada, native as many would have thought.