NASCAR: Kyle Busch could end up at Kaulig Racing after all

Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, Richard Childress Racing, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Kyle Busch didn’t end up at Kaulig Racing for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season, but he could still compete for the team in the Xfinity Series.

Throughout the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, there were several teams that were, at some point, considered the “favorite” to land Kyle Busch for 2023.

Busch’s contract with Joe Gibbs Racing was set to expire at the end of the 2022 season, and with M&M’s leaving the No. 18 Toyota, there was uncertainty about what was in store for the two-time champion.

One of the teams that emerged as a late possibility was Kaulig Racing, which were ideally looking to hire a second full-time driver to run the No. 16 Chevrolet alongside Justin Haley in the No. 31 Chevrolet.

That ultimately didn’t pan out, as Busch signed with Richard Childress Racing to replace Tyler Reddick, who replaced Kurt Busch at 23XI Racing, behind the wheel of the No. 8 Chevrolet.

Instead, Matt Kaulig’s team promoted Xfinity Series driver A.J. Allmendinger to drive the No. 16 Chevrolet full-time in 2023. He drove the car in select races last year.

But there is a chance that Kyle Busch could find himself competing for Kaulig Racing during the 2023 NASCAR season after all.

Kaulig Racing and Richard Childress Racing have a technical alliance, and Richard Childress Racing Cup Series driver Austin Dillon was recently announced as the driver of Kaulig Racing’s No. 10 Chevrolet for the upcoming Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway.

Fox Sports’ Bob Pockrass indicated that Busch could end up getting a similar call for a future race.

Haley has also been confirmed as the driver of the No. 10 Chevrolet for select races, beginning with the season opener at Daytona International Speedway.

The car was left open following the 2022 season when Landon Cassill lost his ride. Instead of replacing him with a full-time driver alongside Allmendinger replacement Chandler Smith and returnee Daniel Hemric, they are effectively doing what Joe Gibbs Racing have done with their “star car” and having several drivers come in for select races.

Of course, a Busch start in any Xfinity Series race for any team would mean he is effectively coming out of retirement, having stated many times that he would be done competing in the series once he reached 100 wins.

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He reached that mark in 2021 with Joe Gibbs Racing and only competed in two more races that year, two races in which he had already been scheduled to compete. The 2022 season was his first season with no Xfinity Series starts since making his series debut in 2003.