NASCAR Cup Series: Kyle Busch feels like he got fired

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Kyle Busch says that he feels as if he got fired from the #18 team at Joe Gibbs Racing and rehired by the #20 team, based on the changes that have taken place ahead of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season.

After a one-win year and a disappointing round of 12 playoff exit in the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season, two-time champion Kyle Busch is set to enter the 2021 season with a new crew chief atop the pit box for the #18 team.

He spent the last six seasons with Adam Stevens, but Stevens has moved over to the #20 team to work with Christopher Bell, whom the team promoted from Leavine Family Racing to replace the Richard Petty Motorsports-bound Erik Jones after last year.

Ben Beshore, who served as Busch’s crew chief for three races in the 2017 season as well as all seven of his Xfinity Series starts, which included four wins, in 2019, is set to serve as the 35-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native’s new crew chief this year.

But those weren’t the only changes that went down at the #18 team ahead of the new season.

In fact, Busch joked during his Daytona 500 media availability that he felt as if he was fired by the #18 team and rehired by the #20 team, given the nature of the changes that went down after last year.

"“Last time this all went down was 2015 when I had Dave Rogers. We were transitioning from Dave in 2014 to Adam in 2015. Adam, obviously he brought in kind of a whole new group of guys besides the car chief. Nate Bellows is the car chief.“Same thing kind of happened again where Adam went over to Christopher Bell, took all of his guys, the number one, number two engineer, the interior guy, the shop guy, the frontend mechanic, the underneath guy, everybody off the whole team stayed with Adam besides Nate.“Nate and I, we’ve kind of had a working relationship over the years. He and I have stuck together again. So Ben brings in himself and he’s working with the number 20 team engineer from last year, which was Erik Jones’ engineer with Chris Gayle and then the number two engineers as well from that group. And then pretty much all the 20 guys as well, too.“So I kind of feel like I got fired from the 18 car and moved over to the 20 guys! With the way everything kind of played out, how it looks in the shop and they got the hauler, I have a new hauler, they kept a surface plate. I got a new surface plate.“So there’s this whole thing mentally in my head that I kind of got fired and rehired. Maybe that’ll hold true with how it looked in 2007 to 2008 from Hendrick to Gibbs. And I went off and won eight races. It’s a new challenge, it’s a whole group, but looking forward to it.”"

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Busch finished in a seventh place tie in the championship standings last season following five consecutive Championship 4 appearances.

He finished in a tie with teammate Martin Truex Jr., the 2017 champion who had been to three straight Championship 4s entering the year but also had a disappointing 2020 season that saw him win only one race. He was eliminated in the round of 8.

Denny Hamlin led the team last year with seven victories and a second consecutive Championship 4 appearance. No other driver has been to the last two Championship 4s entering the 2021 season, although Hamlin finished in fourth place out of four drivers both times.

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The 2021 season is scheduled to get underway with the lone crown jewel that Busch has yet to win, and that is the Daytona 500. The 63rd annual running of the “Great American Race” is scheduled to take place on Sunday, February 14, and it is set to be broadcast live from Daytona International Speedway on Fox beginning at 2:30 p.m. ET.