We are officially a fourth of the way into the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, and one of the biggest names in the sport, and the only active multiple-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch is still without a new contract for the 2023 season.
Saturday in his media availability at Talladega Superspeedway, Busch, who won last weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, was asked about his contract status, and when he would like to have the deal completed. To that, Busch interjected, “Yesterday.”
Busch was then asked if he was antsy about the new contract, and Busch started to show some frustration about the situation.
“Not getting antsy about it. If it happens, it happens. If it don’t, it don’t. Goodbye,” Busch pointed sharply.
Wait, could Kyle Busch, who has won two NASCAR Cup Series championships and scores of NASCAR Cup Series races for JGR in a Toyota, be on the way out?
“Ask Joe Gibbs,” Busch stated.
According to Busch, the holdup is sponsorship. At the end of 2022, Busch’s main primary sponsor since he moved to JGR in 2008 — Mars, Inc. — is set to leave. In their wake, is a massive amount of races that need to be sold sponsorship wise to keep the 36-year old competing for the organization.
While sponsorship needs to be found, Busch insists that it’s, “Not my problem.”
“Gotta sell it. If you don’t sell it, there’s nothing to have,” Busch continued about JGR’s sponsorship search for the No. 18 Toyota for the 2023 season.
It’s crazy to think that a future hall of famer, like Busch, who is still in the middle of his prime years of his racing career could be replaced, but according to Busch, the possibility is simply a sign of the times in the sport.
“Truck Series is probably 95-percent kids with money,” Busch explained.
When pressed on whether he would be able to land another deal, if the Joe Gibbs Racing potential deal falls through, Busch didn’t sound very optimistic.
“Probably not,” Busch stated emphatically.
Seriously, Joe Gibbs Racing wouldn’t let Busch walk away. Right?
“Ask Joe Gibbs,” Busch stated another time during the availability.
As Jimmie Johnson has shown in the last couple of seasons in the NTT IndyCar Series, there is life for racecar drivers after their NASCAR years wind down, if they so choose to run something else. Would Busch entertain another form of racing if he ends up the odd man out in the musical chairs that is silly season?
“No, I’ll probably be Brexton Busch’s truck driver,” Busch quipped.
While it’s often hard to get a read on Busch, he genuinely seemed peeved in his availability by the status of his 2023 NASCAR Cup Series contract talks. If things don’t improve soon, we could realistically be talking about an era of NASCAR, where Busch is not driving the No. 18 car. And if Busch’s prediction is correct, there won’t be another ride waiting for him once the talks break off.