by Bob Bocras
NASCAR FOX Sports writer
Kansas City, Kansas – Kyle Bush The free agency transfer after the 2022 season could be titled “A Moment in Time”.
Busch, roughly synonymous with Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota, is expected to leave the team and manufacturer after the 2022 season and is in deep leadership negotiations to Richard Childress Racing, according to sources familiar with the situation who also confirmed that RCR has begun the sponsor notification process on Friday.
When asked directly if he’ll be going to RCR next year, Bush indicated that he’s still trying to finish the deal.
“I don’t have any new news to share,” Bush said. “If you do, I guarantee you there will be some kind of big announcement. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been one of those yet.
“So we’re still working on it behind the scenes trying to put it all together. It’s not finished.”
Executives and representatives for JGR, Toyota, RCR and Busch all declined to comment on Busch’s plans. An announcement is expected next week.
Probably driving the No. 8 car. Condition Tyler Riddick The current #8 driver who signed with 23XI Racing starting in 2024 is in limbo as to whether RCR would add a full-time third car to it or if 23XI or another team could send a car for it a year later.
Ironically, news of Busch’s departure breaks down at Kansas Speedway, the racetrack where in 2011 Childress hit Busch after a Camping World Truck Series race where Busch was involved in an accident with RCR trucks. Known as the “Hold My Watch” episode, Childress gives his grandson Austin his watch before chasing after Bush.
Childress, who was fined $150,000 for the altercation, said two weeks ago that their past was in the past.
“Kyle is an amazing racing driver,” Childress said Aug. 28 when asked about the possibility of Bosch joining his team. “He and I have talked. We’ve put all our differences behind us for a while, and he’s a great racing driver. He’ll ride well somewhere for sure.”
On Saturday, Bush joked about the mockery of the prospect of him driving for Childress.
“Who is to say he never punched me again in any of these conversations?” He said. “When you go into negotiations, it’s never fun, so you’re training all the time.
“You grow up working through things. He was good when I first sat down with him.”
Busch has known for over a year that Joe Gibbs Racing will need to find a sponsor to replace M&M’s. Although it came close to landing at least one sponsor, nothing came of it, and by April, Bush was beginning to hint that his time at JGR might be over.
But few thought his free agency would last that long because he hoped he wouldn’t leave Toyota. Sources reported that negotiations with the Toyota 23XI Racing team ended earlier this week. Bush said he wants a multi-year deal with the possibility of a longer period.
“This is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do and either look forward to thinking or look forward, one or the other, over the past 15 years,” Bush said. “You don’t want to do this again. I’m too old for this.. [I’ve gotten] Lots of gray hair this week or this year.”
15 years ago, the last time Bush saw his career in flux.
Bosch had spent three cup seasons at Hendrick Motorsports, winning four cup races and finishing fifth in the 2007 standings. But in the middle of the 2007 season, he learned that his contract had not been renewed as Hendrick courted Dale Earnhardt Jr.
He arrived at Joe Gibbs Racing beginning in 2008 – the same year Toyota started at JGR – and won 56 Cup races, as well as the 2015 and 2019 Cup Championships. He also won the 2009 Xfinity Series Championship, competing in all Cup and Xfinity races in that year.
He’s won 224 races across all three NASCAR National Series — 60 in the Cup, 102 in the Xfinity, and 62 in the Trucks. His last 46 wins have come with a truck driven by his team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, which has had great support from Toyota.
Toyota used KBM to help develop prospects, often using vendors (JBL, Safelite, etc.) to take care of drivers. This allowed KBM to focus more on competition than on sponsorship. Now that he’s switched to Chevrolet, KBM’s future is not as clear as it will take Busch to find sponsors or get drivers financing.
Bush is only 37 years old and feels he can drive for about 10 more years. He’s hoping this hiatus with RCR, though, is his end, and he’ll likely be racing with his 7-year-old son, Brixton.
While he won 27 cup races from 2015-2019, he has won only four since taking the 2019 title. His average finish this year of 16.1 was the worst since 2014.
But Toyota certainly wanted to keep it.
“We would be foolish not to keep it all right to keep it in the family,” David Wilson, Toyota Racing Development chief, said last month. “This is what we continue to do… This is not just an offensive consideration.
“I don’t want to race against angry Kyle Bush. Wherever he lands, he will do some damage.”
Ty Gibbs, grandson of Joe Gibbs, is the most likely replacement for Bush. He is second in the Xfinity Series standings and has five wins this year. He has five places in the top 20 in seven Cup games in a substitute role for injured Kurt Busch at 23XI Racing.
Bob Pokras covers NASCAR for FOX Sports. He’s spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s, with stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter @Popocrasand subscribe to Newsletter from FOX Sports NASCAR with Bob Pokras.
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