CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Kyle Busch pulled into the garage at Bristol Motor Speedway with a broken engine, effectively ending his stint with Joe Gibbs Racing. ) legendary tenure of 15 seasons.
Of course, there are seven races left before Busch hands over the keys to the No. 18 Toyota. But in the first three playoff games, two engine failures knocked him out of the competition, and between now and the November finals, Busch is simply out of the JGR ranks.
He has found a new home: Richard Childress Racing snapped up the only active driver with multiple cup wins.
As a signing bonus, Childress presented Bush with a Rolex watch. And told Busch he could run the Indianapolis 500 with a Chevrolet-backed team. The whole thing seems surreal on so many levels.
As a history lesson, Childress tried to take on Busch after the 2011 Truck Series, even taking off his watch before the confrontation. He told a trainer to “keep vigilance” ahead of the race that earned the Hall of Fame team owner a $150,000 NASCAR fine.
And then there’s what the RCR has actually been like over the past 15 years. Childers fielded a two-car team that last won the Cup in 1994 with the late Dale Earnhardt. Busch, a two-time champion with 60 career victories, is 37 years old and he may have played for a decade.
Tyler Reddick also announced in July that he would be leaving RCR at the end of the 2023 season to race 23XI Racing in a Toyota. The RCR had little chance to start discussing a long-term extension, and Redick’s defection — even though he gave the team a year to fill his seat — seemed like a fatal blow.
“We’re focused on winning championships in 2022 and 2023,” Childress said in a brief statement the day Redick announced the move, “though the timing couldn’t have been worse.”
RCR is in trouble and lost its place in the NASCAR elite a long time ago. Redick’s departure could be devastating, as all sponsors see Redick as a key part of Childress’s rebound.
He needs to replace the splash.
Kyle Bush, get down.
Although the Toyota stunt had Redick “bombing” the scheduled media Zoom, Childress had the last laugh when he unexpectedly revealed that he would be driving for Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan. Toyota thinks it has delivered a quick blow to former NRA board member Childress, who shot three intruders who broke into his home in 2017.
His response was to seize the precious gem of the Toyota team. Busch is not only Toyota’s winning driver in all three NASCAR national events, but his Kyle Busch racing program is Toyota’s flagship truck series program.
Busch is now back at Chevrolet — he started his career at Hendrick Motorsports at the age of 18 — and his truck has also been swapped for Team Chevrolet. It was the largest free-agent signing to NASCAR since Rick Hendrick fired Kyle Busch in 2007 to hire Dale Earnhardt Jr.
“When we were talking about winning races and winning championships, I looked him in the eyes and I saw Dale Earnhardt Sr. in the eyes,” Childress said of his new driver. “He’s hungry. We’ll win.
“When all the (Busch) rumors started coming out, when you walked past the racetrack and people asked ‘Is Kyle Busch really here to drive for us?’ there was excitement in people’s voices,” Chai said. Dries continued.
Childress even took revenge on Redick, a two-game winner and a playoff qualifier for Team 8. Childress said Busch will drive Redick’s car next season, and along with Redick’s purser, he will keep Redick in a third Chevy that doesn’t even exist to complete his contract.
Of course, that’s only if Childress isn’t seeking a buyout from Toyota or the 23XI to get Reddick a year early. The 23XI has two cars, but Kurt Busch has been sidelined with a concussion since July and his return is uncertain. Hamlin said the 23XI plans to bring Kurt Busch back next season and has contingency plans in place that don’t include Redick.
Redick’s feelings were not hurt.
“I look at it from a business perspective. They’re looking to the future and what’s going to be the best in the long run,” Redick said. “I’m sure I can understand how people can think it’s personal, but I don’t see it that way. It makes sense for RCR long-term to put him in the No. 8 car.”
Ultimately, the credit for signing Busch goes to Childress’ grandson and No. 3 Chevy driver Austin Dillon. It was Dillon who told his grandfather to put the 2011 fight with Bush in the past and focus on what Bush could bring to RCR in the future.
“It’s about what’s the future of RCR, and where is it going from here? In my opinion, anyone wants to have a free agent,” said Dillon, who believes Busch can “immediately improve your competitive advantage. In terms of marketing.” , he drives that. He does. He has a huge fan base.
“When it comes to Kyle, he wants to run fast and win races. The guys in our shop are really excited to have someone with his experience. We hope North Carolina welcomes teams to compete in top events every week , and seen as a competitor. We are on an upward trajectory, so we need to keep it going.”
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