Every year, “Silly Season” takes the Nascar world by storm, as drivers and teams scramble to nail down contracts for the next Cup Series season. One of, if not the most, talked-about drivers in the mix is two-time Cup Series champion Kyle Busch. Busch is synonymous with the No. 18 Toyota TRD Camry fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), but sponsor woes have forced him into negotiations with other teams, potentially putting him behind the wheel of a Nascar Chevy in 2023.
Busch’s longtime sponsor, Mars Incorporated, will withdraw its Nascar sponsorship upon conclusion of the Cup Series season. JGR has yet to announce a new sponsor for the No. 18 Camry that will allow the team to pay Busch’s requested salary. Busch joined JGR and took over the No. 18 Camry in 2008 after five seasons with Hendrick Motorsports (HMS), where he drove the No. 5 Nascar Chevy Monte Carlo. Busch has amassed two championships – 2015 and 2019 – with JGR, along with over 50 individual Cup Series race wins.
Busch recently confirmed that he has narrowed his options down to two teams. Speculation is that he is seriously considering joining 23XI Racing, which is co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin, driver of the No. 11 Camry. This decision would keep Busch in the Toyota camp. However, Busch is also reportedly considering Richard Childress Racing (RCR), which would put him back in a Nascar Chevy race car.
On Thursday, Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal posted on social media that Busch is most likely to join RCR. This was followed by a rather confusing tweet from Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt inferred that he has heard that Busch (indicated by a “bush” emoji) could be going to the No. 8 Camaro ZL1 (indicated by an eight ball emoji), which is fielded by RCR. Currently, the No. 8 Camaro is driven by Tyler Reddick, but Reddick announced he is joining 23XI in 2024, a decision that reportedly frustrated current team owner Richard Childress.
— Dale Earnhardt Jr. (@DaleJr) September 8, 2022
It’s entirely possible that RCR could choose to end its relationship with Reddick early, opening up a seat in the No. 8 Nascar Chevy Camaro for Busch in 2023. Busch could also choose to stay with Toyota and move to 23XI. Conversely, all of this speculation and publicity could be for naught, and Busch could very well remain behind the wheel of the No. 18 Camry for JGR.