NASCAR: The new focal point of silly season for 2023

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Jeff Curry/Getty Images) /

Following Martin Truex Jr.’s big announcement, Kyle Busch is back in the spotlight as the focal point of NASCAR Cup Series silly season.

Ending months of speculation, Martin Truex Jr. announced on Friday afternoon that he plans to return to Joe Gibbs Racing for a fifth year behind the wheel of the #19 Toyota in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Going all the way back to March, the 2017 series champion had stated that he didn’t know if he wanted to return for another year at the sport’s top level. He had been clear that he doesn’t need to continue doing what he’s doing, and he does so simply because he enjoys it and he feels he is competitive.

Compared to the last six seasons, which saw him win at least four races on five occasions and finish in the top two in the championship standings on four occasions, it had been somewhat of a struggle for the 41-year-old Mayetta, New Jersey native to start the Gen 7 era in 2022. He has yet to finish a race in the top three and sits in seventh place in the point standings.

A lot of the attention was drawn away from Truex’s situation, however, when teammate Kyle Busch made several cryptic comments about his future — or lack thereof — with Joe Gibbs Racing in the Cup Series at Talladega Superspeedway back in April. The uncertainty stems from the decision that longtime sponsor M&M’s made before the 2022 season began.

M&M’s announced that they will not be back on the #18 Toyota in 2023.

But while Truex made additional comments which turned the focus and speculation back to his role in silly season, and many even believed that he was talking as if he planned to call it quits after the 2022 season, now his situation has been resolved, and he is set to return for an 18th season in 2023, so no replacement is needed.

Meanwhile, nothing has been formally resolved in Busch’s situation, despite the fact that a number of promising developments have taken place since his “goodbye” remark. And now he is back in the spotlight, just like he was after making that remark.

Joe Gibbs Racing have three of their four drivers set for 2023, with Denny Hamlin set to return for another year behind the wheel of the #11 Toyota and Christopher Bell set to return for another year behind the wheel of the #20 Toyota as well.

Will Busch and the team reach an agreement on a new contract for 2023, despite the sponsorship uncertainty, or will Joe Gibbs Racing need to find a new driver after all, even with Truex set to return?

The #18 Toyota needs a driver for 3 races. dark. Next

Joe Gibbs Racing’s role in silly season is far from over, and now that role is centered around the driver who happens to be the most successful active driver in the series with two championships and 60 victories.