Kyle Busch joins Chevrolet and Richard Childress Racing for the next NASCAR Cup seasons!
Tuesday, September 13, 2022 by Marie-Lyse Tremblay
Richard Childress Racing (RCR) announced on Tuesday that Kyle Busch will drive the No.8 Chevrolet for this team in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2023, ending the two-time series champion’s longstanding partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota.
The announcement was made Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame and means Kyle Busch’s 15th season with Joe Gibbs will be his last. The 37-year-old won the championship title with this team in 2015 and 2019, and he is the winningest driver in Joe Gibbs Racing history, collecting 56 of his 60 NASCAR Cup victories with the car bearing the No.18.
The multi-year contract signed between Busch and Richard Childress will see the driver evolve with the No.8 in 2023 and beyond, with Randall Burnett as team leader. Tyler Reddick, who currently drives the No.8, remains under contract with RCR and will drive for the team next year in an as yet unannounced schedule. Reddick previously announced he would be driving for 23XI Racing from 2024, which could lead to RCR giving him a third car next year, or even agreeing with 23XI Racing to release the driver a year earlier than planned. .
Tuesday’s news puts an end to long-standing contract uncertainty surrounding Kyle Busch’s future on the show this season. The move also creates a much sought-after vacancy for the No.18 car in 2023.
Busch opened up about his contract-free status a few weeks ago, saying in July at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that he was willing to re-sign with JGR for less than his current market value. But that desire to continue with the engaging Toyota team has, he says, been clouded by the search for a top sponsor to replace longtime partner M&M’s/Mars on the No.18 car. Busch then indicated a few days ago that he had several offers to consider.
For his part, David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, had stressed the importance of keeping Busch in the fold of the automaker as discussions were ongoing until a few days ago, saying that « any other scenario is simply unacceptable”. Busch ranks as Toyota’s most successful driver in NASCAR’s three national series with 203 of 224 total victories earned during his time with the Japanese automaker.
Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota will now have to deal with the loss of Busch’s impending departure. Among the drivers most often cited to drive the No.18 next year is Ty Gibbs, five-time Xfinity Series winner this year and who replaced injured Kurt Busch in the last eight events with one of 23XI Racing’s Toyotas . Ty Gibbs is also the grandson of Joe Gibbs.
To some, the partnership between Childress and Busch may seem like an unlikely union. Because after a series of incidents and tense moments between Busch and Kevin Harvick, then RCR pilot, Childress confronted Busch after the pilot had a run-in with Joey Coulter – another former RCR pilot – during a Camping World race Truck in 2011 at Kansas Speedway. NASCAR officials then fined Childress US$150,000 and placed him on probation for the physical altercation. Since then, things have calmed down but the two men never seemed to want to fraternize!
Kyle Busch qualified for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with a win earlier this year at the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway. That victory in April extended his season streak with at least one victory in NASCAR’s premier series to 18.
Busch also began his NASCAR Cup career as a Chevrolet driver, joining the series full-time in 2005 with Hendrick Motorsports. He collected four victories with this team before his move to Gibbs in 2008.
It now remains to settle the question of Kyle Busch Motorsports, official representative of Toyota in the NASCAR Camping World Truck series since 2010. With Kyle and other drivers at the wheel (including Quebecer Raphaël Lessard in 2019-2020), this team has accumulated 98 victories and two drivers’ championships (Erik Jones in 2015, Christopher Bell in 2017) in the series. Busch’s affiliation with Chevrolet on the side of the NASCAR Cup Series adds a layer of uncertainty over multiple vehicle presence and what type of vehicle will be operated by his team in the pickup series in 2023.
Finally, remember that the Childress team has won six NASCAR Cup championships as a team owner, but none since the last title of Dale Earnhardt father in 1994. This season, however, is one of the best for the team since the turn of the century, Tyler Reddick and Austin Dillon (who will be Busch’s teammate next year as he stays at the wheel of the No.3) have three wins between them, and they qualified for the playoffs at the end of season that are currently taking place.