Kyle Busch is waiting for the dominoes to fall


Kyle Busch remains out of contract for 2023. (Photo HHP)

All Kyle Busch could ask for is a car to race on Sundays. Well, that and a contract to do so.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver enters the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs as the 11th seed, a spot where many drivers who missed the cut would love to be, but he’s also managing some major concerns off the track.

“It weighs you down every time, every day of the week,” Busch said.

In December 2021, M&M Mars announced that the company was ending its sponsorship of Joe Gibbs Racing, including Busch’s No. 18 Toyota. His future has remained up in the air throughout the summer, leading to “many more gray hairs.”

As the Cup Series heads into the home stretch, Busch is still out of contract for 2023, but at NASCAR’s Media Day Playoff, the driver established that he had options.

Returning to Joe Gibbs Racing was one, and he shared that there was “more than one” team with a contract offer in front of him. While the day may not come soon enough for Busch’s liking, a decision will likely be reached within the next seven to 10 days.

“I expected it yesterday. It has to be,” Busch said. “Again, I’m not going to put a timeline, but time is ticking.”

Kyle Busch Motorsports’ lineup with Toyota in the NASCAR Truck Series also weighed into Busch’s decision, making the situation “80 to 85 percent more difficult than if it was just me.”

Other manufacturers remain open to the Truck Series program, but the potential change remains a factor.

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While the clock is ticking down on contract negotiations, it’s also ticking toward the start of the playoffs. And for Busch, more time behind the wheel might be the best thing on the planet right now.

“I’m a runner, that’s all I know. So when I get to the race track every weekend, I put my helmet on and that’s what I focus on, being myself,” Busch said.

On Sundays, all you have to think about is getting the car to go fast. And during the playoffs, his focus is to put No. 18 in Championship 4. Yet Busch continues to think about winning the championship, even if it seems out of reach for him where he is now. .

He described his team as a “top five, top six” but stressed that several of the shortcomings that have held them back this season can be corrected for the playoffs.

“We just have to correct some of our mistakes. Speeding in the pits, that’s up to me, running over the air hose or whatever, stuff,” Busch said.

Other costly mistakes have been out of Busch’s control, including several multi-car crashes in which he has been involved. One notable accident occurred at Michigan International Speedway in early August, where Busch finished outside the top 10 for the eighth straight race.

On the other hand, Busch hasn’t been known to take the easy way out. For his two Cup Series championships in 2015 and 2019, Busch emerged from tense circumstances to claim the title.

It may be a different situation this year, but things remain tense.

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Having to find a new sponsor, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver realizes that things could change significantly, or that he might have to change.

“I feel like having the freedom to be able to act or react to certain situations the way I was able to because of the support of M&M’s allowed me to be as successful as I was on Sunday, 1000 percent,” Busch said. “So, will that have to change? Most likely.”

The reality of what it will be like to have a new sponsor for Busch is still unknown. The decision of which team he will compete for still weighs heavily on him.

But in the first round of the playoffs on Sunday at Darlington Raceway, whether he was born to do it or not, Busch may be the guy he does best: a racer.

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