Kyle Busch’s future with Joe Gibbs Racing has been in question since January. It was then that the two-time Cup Series champion admitted that he wanted to stay with the team and hoped that everything would go well.
It hasn’t worked yet. This week, a senior JGR official addressed Busch’s situation and repeatedly stated how the organization wants the future NASCAR Hall of Famer to stay with the team. However, he didn’t necessarily argue that it was actually going to happen and even made a remark that should worry fans of the #18 car.
Kyle Busch’s future at Joe Gibbs Racing in question
Last August, Kyle Busch and JGR received bad news that Mars Inc. was leaving the sport as a sponsor after 32 years. This meant that the organization had to find a replacement for the longtime partner of the #18 car.
In April, after months of silence on the subject, Busch was asked about the progress of finding a new sponsor. He surprised everyone with his answer.
“Yesterday,” the driver replied when The Athletic’s Jeff Gluck asked if he felt nervous about the situation. “I’m not mad about it. If it happens, it happens. If it’s not, it’s not. Goodbye.”
He then repeatedly told reporters to “ask Joe Gibbs” when asked about his future with the team.
JGR president insists team wants Kyle Busch back
This week, JGR President Dave Alpern provided the latest update on Busch’s situation. It was a familiar refrain.
“We’ve been pretty consistent since the end of last season, which is to say we want Kyle to be in the (#)18 car and that’s our plan,” Alpern said. “We are still working on sponsors, and despite the interest in our sport, it takes a long time. And admittedly, this one takes a little longer than expected. It’s not for lack of interest. It’s just trying to put it all together. So these will probably happen in parallel. And, again, we hope that something will be decided here in the very near future.
Alpern is right. The team has always said they want Busch back in the car. However, the organization has also regularly let it be known that despite its best efforts, including signing with a marketing agency run by Tad Geschickter, owner of JTG Daugherty Racing, nothing is set.
“What we do is find sponsors. I mean, we’ve been doing this for 30 years. We are in the business,” he said. “I think it’s not just about hitting something on the car. It’s about finding a partnership that makes sense. And so we just try to find the right fit.
Moments later, the JGR president repeated the plans to bring Busch back again but also made a telling comment.
“We fully intend (to re-sign Busch). Professional sports – look, things happen. Carl Edwards retired Christmas week one year, so try to speculate what’s going to happen? But the plan is that we are confident that there will be a good partner on this car for next year.
Martin Truex Jr. re-signed during this same period
Things happen? These words do not necessarily inspire confidence in Busch fans. To add some more fuel to the uncertainty, Martin Truex Jr.’s future has also been in question over the past few months, but was resolved several weeks ago when he announced his return to 2023 for another season.
Meanwhile, Busch remains in limbo.
Clearly, the organization wants one of the greatest drivers of all time to return to No. 18 in 2023 and beyond. But as JGR officials, including Gibbs himself, have repeatedly stated, ironing out all the details can be difficult.
But, as Alpern mentioned, sometimes those details don’t get ironed out and things happen. Ask Carl Edwards.
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