NASCAR: The overlooked aspect of Kyle Busch’s situation

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR - Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

Kyle Busch’s contract situation with Joe Gibbs Racing goes beyond his role as a NASCAR Cup Series driver, despite how significant that aspect may be.

Nearly a month after the comments Kyle Busch made about the uncertainty surrounding his future with Joe Gibbs Racing beyond the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, nothing has been announced as it pertains to a new deal.

While some believed that Busch was keeping something hidden and simply wanted to get people talking, Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson confirmed last week that nothing is done and that, as of now, Joe Gibbs Racing can’t afford to pay Busch to keep him with the team for 2023.

This was somewhat of an expected issue, with longtime partner M&M’s announcing before the 2022 season began that this would be their final season as the primary sponsor of the #18 Toyota.

However, not many thought that it would actually evolve into a situation where Busch might not return to Joe Gibbs Racing for another year.

But while Busch’s role as a driver is significant in itself, with the two-time champion and 60-time race winner still being one of the top drivers in the series, another significant development has to do with his relationship with Toyota.

When Busch joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 after three years with Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports, he wasn’t the only party to switch from Chevrolet. Prior to 2008, Joe Gibbs Racing had been aligned with Chevrolet, but they switched to Toyota the same year Busch signed with the team.

It has been produced one of the most successful driver/team/manufacturer combinations the sport has ever seen.

That relationship has also led to the opening and success of Kyle Busch Motorsports, the Busch-owned organization that has served as Toyota’s primary feeder series organization in the Truck Series for several years.

The last thing Toyota wants to do is burn any bridges with Busch, because no matter how much longer Busch competes in the Cup Series, Kyle Busch Motorsports should be around for much longer.

Wilson knows this, and he knows that Busch knows this. He also knows that Busch would love to see his son Brexton, now seven years old, driving a Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports one day as he aims to ascend to NASCAR’s top level and follow in his father’s footsteps.

Here is what Wilson had to say, according to NASCAR.

"“He doesn’t want to go anywhere else. He has been very candid. You know, he can’t wait for the day that his little boy, Brexton, races a Toyota Tundra out of the Kyle Busch Motorsports stable. He has that in his sights. And that’s not going to be for another 10-plus years, which means that we’ve got to make sure that we’re still together long after Kyle’s out of the driver’s seat full time.”"

But if a situation were to arise in which Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing for another team, that other team would likely have to be a team outside Toyota, considering the fact that the only other Toyota team in the Cup Series is the Joe Gibbs Racing-affiliated 23XI Racing.

In that case, Busch’s new manufacturer would have to pay a hefty amount to switch all of his trucks over from Toyota, as he naturally wouldn’t drive for Ford/Chevrolet and continue to run a Toyota Truck Series operation.

3 possible landing spots for Kyle Busch in 2023. dark. Next

Is it a likely scenario? Not exactly. But Toyota may not be able to run that risk, because if that switch were to happen and somebody else is willing to fork over that money, that would present an absolute nightmare scenario for Toyota in terms of driver development.