Kyle Busch has been at the center of attention for the last couple of months due to the ongoing negotiations at Joe Gibbs Racing for him to remain in the No. 18 car for next season and beyond.
With that in mind, what are Busch’s options for the 2023 season?
Kyle Busch returns to Joe Gibbs Racing
This is the most likely scenario for Kyle Busch and it’s pretty simple. Busch is not leaving Joe Gibbs Racing unless another team can give him the money and equipment to make it reasonable. There can be negotiation tactics through interviews, building pressure within the weekdays, and tense moments post-race, but it doesn’t change what options are presented to both sides at this point.
Unless sponsorship is obtained, Busch is best served to take the pay cut offered by the organization for one season while they work on securing the needed sponsorship to continue in the coming years.
It does not make sense for the 37-year-old driver to leave one of the best organizations in NASCAR for a lesser one at his age. A driver’s prime is in their late 30s to early 40s and these are the best years to win now. The emotions might get high and the process might be frustrating, but each side needs to be realistic if the situation of Busch leaving comes to fruition in the coming days, weeks, or months.
Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota need Busch for more reasons than his driving. Would Busch continue his NASCAR Truck Series organization with Toyota if he were to leave the manufacturer? It doesn’t make sense if he does continue it with Toyota. The manufacturer has the best pipeline in NASCAR and this would be a massive, massive hit to them.
Ty Gibbs is almost certainly the driver of the No. 18 car for Joe Gibbs Racing if Busch decides to leave the organization. Gibbs and Christopher Bell are the future of the organization, specifically. The 19-year-old driver will end up replacing Denny Hamlin or Martin Truex Jr. sooner rather than later if Busch stays. It’s a better business decision to keep a driver four to five years younger while he historically enters his prime.
Toyota has more to lose than Busch right now. The prediction in this article is that Busch still remains with Joe Gibbs for the foreseeable future.
Kyle Busch takes his NASCAR talents to Stewart-Haas Racing
A marriage between Kyle Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing makes sense on the surface because the organization might have one to two openings. Aric Almirola announced his intentions to retire at the conclusion of the 2022 season, however, that decision could be reversed and it shouldn’t be ruled out.
Meanwhile, Cole Custer has been significantly struggling as he sits 26th in the point standings with only one top-10 finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway, which is now a super speedway track.
Out of the available organizations with the most realistic openings, Stewart-Haas Racing sits at the top of them all. Granted, the only other organizations are Petty GMS Motorsports and Kaulig Racing right now.
If Busch leaves Joe Gibbs Racing, those three organizations are the ones that can simply slide him into a car instead of publicly dropping a current driver or buying a charter for next season. This is one of the few reasons that make Stewart-Haas Racing a realistic option right now. Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing, Team Penske, Trackhouse Racing, and 23XI Racing are all better options for their own reasons.
Nonetheless, Stewart-Haas Racing likely has the money to entice Kyle Busch to sign with the organization and it seems unrealistic that Petty GMS Motorsports or Kaulig Racing has good enough equipment to convince him.
It seems to be the easiest option from the public standpoint but is it worth switching from Joe Gibbs Racing to Stewart-Haas Racing for more money?
Kyle Busch comes full circle to Hendrick Motorsports
Don’t rule it out because it seems unrealistic on the surface. This is the type of scenario that Hendrick Motorsports should and might absolutely pounce on if Kyle Busch is set free from Joe Gibbs Racing.
People might be quick to say that Hendrick Motorsports’ lineup is set with Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, William Byron, and Alex Bowman, but nothing is set in stone. Busch is struggling in his efforts to find sponsorship and Hendrick has the sponsorship within the organization already to make it work moving forward for a long time.
There are only a few organizations in NASCAR that can both afford and give Busch the equipment that makes it reasonable to leave Joe Gibbs Racing, which has arguably been the best organization this season.
Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing are two of those organizations because let’s be realistic with the statistics provided publicly. Stewart-Haas Racing is not that appealing from an equipment standpoint right now. There are people who will say it’s realistic because the organization has an opening but there are teams with better overall statistics during the 2022 season that can make room.
Does all of this mean Busch will be donning a Hendrick Motorsports firesuit anytime soon? It’s more likely that it does not happen. However, if Kyle Busch decides to leave Joe Gibbs Racing, it will be very interesting to see if the situation develops.