Kyle Busch has said he will retire from the NASCAR Xfinity Series after reaching 100 wins in the series, a number he reached last year.
Kyle Busch had said for years that he would walk away from competing in NASCAR Xfinity Series races once he eclipsed the 100-win mark in the series.
He had even joked that NASCAR and the fans wanted to keep him around longer, which is why NASCAR continued to reduce the number of Xfinity Series races that full-time Cup Series drivers could enter.
In 2017, this number was 10. In 2018, it was reduced to seven. In 2020, it was further reduced to five.
At the start of the 2021 season, Busch had 97 wins to his name.
And that number would have been 98 had his winning car not failed post-race inspection at Texas Motor Speedway in July 2020.
He was lined up to race in five races for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2021 at the following tracks: Circuit of the Americas, Texas Motor Speedway, Nashville Superspeedway, Road America and Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Despite his dominance, he had, interestingly, never won 60% of his races in his first 18 Xfinity Series seasons. Still, many thought he would hit the century mark anyway at some point in 2021.
And that’s exactly what he did – with two races to spare.
He earned his 100th career victory at the Nashville Superspeedway last June. While he had said he would retire after hitting that mark, he also clarified that since he was already lined up to compete at Road America and Atlanta Motor Speedway, he would complete his program instead of just streaking. remove.
After also winning those two races, he finished the year five out of five, giving him 102 career wins.
But some found it hard to believe he would simply walk away from Xfinity Series competition, where he never had a problem ‘beating’ some of the young guys and dominating races at the second-highest level in the world. sport.
Let’s not forget the fact that he had been the driving force behind NASCAR in continuing to tighten restrictions on Cup Series drivers competing in the series. These restrictions have even been dubbed the “Kyle Busch Rule”.
However, he continued to clarify that was it; after 19 years, he had done everything he wanted to do on the show.
As for Joe Gibbs Racing’s Xfinity Series team, they are still running the “star car” in 2022, although it will be used as the third car and not the fourth after downsizing.
Brandon Jones is in his fifth season driving the #19 Toyota. Harrison Burton, who drove the No. 20 Toyota in 2020 and 2021, has moved to the Cup Series, now replacing Truck Series driver Matt DiBenedetto at the wheel of the No. 21 Ford at Wood Brothers Racing. Joe Gibbs Racing has opted not to race the #20 Toyota at all in 2022.
2021 Series champion Daniel Hemric left the team to replace current Cup Series driver Justin Haley driving the No. 11 Chevrolet at Kaulig Racing, initially leaving the No. 18 Toyota unmanned after Hemric failed. only spent a year with the team and won the title.
Ty Gibbs, who was the main driver of the ‘star car’ in 2021, is now a full-time driver. He drives Toyota #54, which was previously the “star car”.
With Hemric’s departure, the #18 Toyota has become the “star car”, and seven drivers have already driven it in the first 16 races of the season. Six of those drivers are expected to make another 15 combined starts over the final 17 races of the season.
Is filling in from time to time completely out of the question for Busch? Probably not, if team owner Joe Gibbs needs him.
But all things considered, that won’t be the case this year. Just look at how often other Joe Gibbs Racing Cup Series drivers compete in the Xfinity Series – not very often.
Less than five months into the season, there are only two races left for which the “star car” does not have a confirmed driver for 2022, following several recent announcements.
The most recent announcement confirmed that Ryan Truex, who competed in four races in the No.18 Toyota earlier this season, is set to add to his schedule by competing in today’s race. today at Atlanta Motor Speedway – the site of Busch’s newest Xfinity Series Debut.
Although there are still two races for which a driver of the #18 Toyota has not been confirmed, this race was the last legitimate possibility for Busch in 2022.
So we can officially say that Busch has effectively retired from Xfinity Series competition.
One of the two remaining races for which a driver for the No. 18 Toyota has yet to be confirmed is the regular season-ending race at Darlington Raceway. But it’s a race that Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin usually races.
The other race is the round of 12 eliminations at Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, a race Busch is ineligible for as he is a full-time Cup Series driver.
Thus, the seat of the “star car” still needs to be filled for a few more events. But while it may surprise some who initially doubted Busch’s promise, he won’t be the man to fulfill it.
We can’t neglect to mention the fact that Busch hasn’t completely stopped competing in the lower series; he still plans to race five races a year for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series, and he did just that in 2022. He made his fifth and final start of the year at Sonoma Raceway on last month.
If it’s true, which it should be, that Busch isn’t participating in the Xfinity Series at all this year, that would make the 2022 season the first season since the 2002 season in which he didn’t make any start on the show – and he only made his series debut in 2003.