There was some promising news on the sponsorship front for Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season on Thursday.
Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch is still one of the best drivers in the sport, sitting in third place in the point standings through 13 races on the 36-race 2022 schedule with a victory in the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt race.
But Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, and Toyota have quickly been exposed to that hard-hitting reality that if the sponsorship money isn’t there, it could very well be “goodbye”, something Busch himself admitted at Talladega Superspeedway last month.
Busch is in his 15th season with Joe Gibbs Racing behind the wheel of the #18 Toyota, but he is in a contract year, and before the season started, the organization was hit with the “shocking” news that longtime partner M&M’s would not be back for another season in 2023.
That was always going to pose somewhat of an obstacle for the team in terms of reaching a new deal with Busch for 2022.
However, not many expected it to turn into a serious challenge.
Both team owner Joe Gibbs and Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson have made clear that they remain optimistic about coming to an agreement with the 37-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native for the 2023 season. But Wilson wasn’t kidding when he explained that they are “working on a number of different solutions harder than ever before”.
That was made crystal clear on Thursday, when it was announced that Joe Gibbs Racing had made an “unprecedented” move involving a non-affiliated team — a Chevrolet team, in fact.
Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported on Thursday that Joe Gibbs Racing have hired Brand Activation Maximizer, the marketing agency owned by JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter, to help sell sponsorship for the four-car Toyota powerhouse, specifically the #18 car.
Stern later added that, according to unnamed sources, Joe Gibbs Racing are said to be in “advanced talks” on a one-year deal for the #18 Toyota with a “major tech company”.
While Busch’s name was never specifically mentioned in the report, it seems to be a foregone conclusion that, if the money is found, the 60-time Cup Series race winner is the driver whom Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota — and presumably any sponsor willing to do business with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota at this stage in the game — would want behind the wheel of the #18 Toyota in 2023.