Kyle Busch will not race for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2023.
According to The Athletic, Busch, 37, is heading to Richard Childress Racing next season in one of NASCAR’s biggest free agent moves of the last decade. Busch’s departure from JGR comes as he races for the championship in 2022 and longtime sponsor M&M Mars announced it would not return to its car in 2023.
This announcement left JGR vying for sponsorship for one of the most successful and recognizable drivers in the Cup series. And with no company meeting the team’s asking price during the season, Busch began talking to other teams and a move away from the team became more and more real.
Bush’s move to RCR will be announced on Tuesday, according to the report.
Busch has won 56 of his 60 Cup Series victories with JGR and won two championships with the team. After moving to JGR from Hendrick Motorsports in 2008 and becoming one of the best drivers in NASCAR, he found it almost impossible to ever leave the team as he became the winningest driver in NASCAR’s top three series.
The move is a huge coup for RCR after seeing Tyler Reddick sign a deal with 23XI Racing for the 2024 season. The Toyota team announced Reddick’s move in the summer and took the team by surprise. RCR issued a low-key statement following Reddick’s departure.
RCR is most famous for the six championships Dale Earnhardt won with the team and has not returned to those heights in recent years. An RCR driver hasn’t finished in the top 10 in the standings since Ryan Newman’s stunning second in 2014, but there are signs the team can be much more competitive in NASCAR’s new era of motoring. Reddick scored his first two career wins in 2022 and is currently fifth in the standings, while Austin Dillon qualified for the playoffs with a win in the final regular-season race at Daytona. The addition of Busch can immediately make the team a title contender again.
Bush’s addition also comes more than a decade after he and Richard Childress had an infamous rampage in Kansas. Childress confronted Busch after a Truck Series race in 2011 and reportedly put Busch in a headlock and landed a few punches after Busch tangled with an RCR driver during the race.
Who replaces Busch at JGR? What’s up with Reddick?
JGR, meanwhile, will likely replace Busch with Ty Gibbs, the grandson of team owner Joe Gibbs. Ty Gibbs made his Cup Series debut earlier this season as an injury replacement for Kurt Busch and has finished in the top 20 in five of his seven Cup starts as Busch’s backup. Ty Gibbs is a much cheaper alternative to Busch and can attract sponsors who don’t spend as much as they otherwise would to pay Busch’s salary. As a two-time Cup Series champion, Busch has earned the right to command a salary among the top drivers in NASCAR, and with an inexpensive in-house option, JGR had some flexibility.
Reddick’s future is also up in the air. He could stay with RCR for another season and the end of his contract if the team expands to three cars, or he may need a ride for 2023. 23XI Racing currently has two cars for Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch, although Kurt returned to The Cup series is still unclear. He has not announced when he will return after the July concussion at Pocono.
The future of Kyle Busch Motorsports is also another question mark. Busch has had an incredibly successful Toyota-backed Truck Series team since 2010, and his trucks have won 98 races in 764 starts. That Toyota relationship will disappear with the switch to Chevy, and any changes at KBM could fundamentally alter NASCAR’s No. 3 series.