CONCORD, NORTH CAROLINA – MAY 28: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Red White and Blue Toyota, drives during qualifying for the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28, 2022 in Concord, North Carolina. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images
UPDATE 2: While Toyota and Joe Gibbs Racing remain committed to sign Kyle Busch to a contract extension, a Toyota executive told NBC Sports that they are “contingency planning.”
David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, said the manufacturer and JGR are “trying to find a path” to keep the two-time Cup champion with them — Busch’s home since 2008.
“If there’s not sponsorship there, maybe we can create a bridge somewhere,” Wilson said.
The issue for Joe Gibbs Racing is that it has not been able to secure sponsorship for Busch next season. Until that is done, the organization is not likely to sign Busch to a new deal.
A potential sponsor fell through earlier and reset the sponsorship search. Wilson said that there have been talks with “a number of sponsors.”
— NBC Sports —
UPDATE 7-17-2022: Kyle Busch said Saturday there’s no firm deadline for cementing a potential return to Joe Gibbs Racing next season, adding he has had talks with other teams.
“I mean, it would be nice sooner than later, but honestly, it doesn’t matter how soon or how late it gets done,” Busch said before Cup Series qualifying Saturday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “Until there’s an announcement that somebody else is driving the 18 car, then I feel like I still have a seat.”
Toyota made a big splash earlier this week with the signing of Tyler Reddick to 23XI Racing, a JGR affiliate, for the 2024 season. Busch hedged on whether that addition to the Toyota camp would impact his negotiations but admitted he’s spoken with other teams.
“The short answer is yes,” Busch said. “But you know, yeah, anything’s possible obviously. There’s all kinds of different things that can play out. It’s just a matter of what does.”
— NASCAR.com —
ORIGINAL POST 7-7-2022: Dave Alpern, president of Joe Gibbs Racing, left no words thin: The team intends to have Kyle Busch back in the No. 18 Toyota for the 2023 Cup Series season along with Ty Gibbs back in the Xfinity Series.
What muddies those plans is the lack of signed contracts midway through the 2022 season.
Busch, the only active multi-time Cup champion on the circuit, is losing longtime sponsor Mars, Inc. at the end of the season. In a Thursday teleconference, Alpern noted the search for the two-time titlist’s replacement sponsor remains ongoing.
“We’ve been pretty consistent since the end of last season, which is we want Kyle to be in the (No.) 18 car and that’s our plan,” Alpern said. “We’re still working on sponsorship, and as much interest as there is in our sport, these take a long time. And admittedly, this one’s taking a little longer than we thought. It’s not for lack of interest. It’s just trying to get everything put together. So those will probably happen in parallel. And, again, we’re hoping to get something decided here in the very near future.”