With his sponsorship and contract status with Joe Gibbs Racing still unresolved, Kyle Busch admitted to reporters on Saturday that he has spoken with other NASCAR teams about potential opportunities in 2023. Busch’s comments come as his team continues to look for a new sponsor to replace longtime partner M&M’s, which is leaving NASCAR at the end of the 2022 season.
Busch was asked by Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports whether he’s had discussions with other teams, particularly given the timing of the news earlier this week that Toyota would bring Tyler Reddick to 23XI Racing beginning in 2024. Busch has served as both Toyota and Gibbs’ flagship driver since 2008, but lack of sponsorship and its ensuing effect on contract talks have muddied Busch’s outlook with the team and manufacturer.
“The short answer is yes,” Busch said. “But yeah, anything’s possible. Obviously there’s all kinds of different things that could play out. It’s just a matter of what does.”
Despite confirming that he’s had discussions with other teams about his future, Busch indicated that there was no set timetable or deadline for when a deal to remain with Gibbs would have to get done. Busch also indicated that he would stay pat until a decision one way or the other was made.
“It would be nice sooner (rather) than later, but honestly it doesn’t matter how soon or how late it gets done,” Busch said. “Until there’s an announcement that somebody else is driving the No. 18 car, then I feel like I still have a seat.”
It’s not certain exactly which teams Busch has had conversations with, as what options he would have seem limited in scope so far. Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 has been expected to be the top open ride for 2023, but Aric Almirola has been the subject of rumors suggesting he will backtrack on retirement plans and openly admitted he has given more thought to doing so on Saturday. On Friday, an opening was created at Petty GMS when it was announced that Ty Dillon would not return to the team’s No. 42 next season.
Despite efforts to get a new sponsor and contract for Busch becoming protracted, both Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota officials have remained adamant that they believe a deal will eventually be reached.
“We have every intention [of re-signing Busch],” Joe Gibbs Racing president Dave Alpern said recently. “… The plan is we feel confident there’ll be a good partner on that car for next year. And, again, the hope is that Kyle Busch will be in it.”
In his 15th season as the driver of Gibbs’ No. 18, Busch currently sits fifth in points with one win, six top fives, and 11 top 10s. Earlier this year, Busch’s win at Bristol Motor Speedway gave him his 18th consecutive season with at least one victory, tying a NASCAR record held by Richard Petty.