With the 2022 season coming to an end, so might the Kyle Busch contract. With negotiations for 2023 not falling through, Busch’s future at Joe Gibbs racing also hangs by a thread. At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the racecar driver told the media that he would agree to be underpaid for the upcoming season. He wants to continue with Joe Gibbs racing and would even take less than his market value to continue with them. However, seems like there is a major difference in opinions between Busch and the racing organization as the former still remains without a contract for the 2023 season.
In the Saturday interview, Kyle got quite candid with his remarks, admitting that “there are a lot of sleepless nights.” These negotiations simply mark the beginning of a long series of discussions to decide Kyle’s future for 2023. Dustin Long from NBC Sports dived deep into the matter and explained the entire background for these discussions. Being one of the best drivers in the NASCAR Series, Kyle’s salary is justifiably high.
Unfortunately, NASCAR and Joe Gibbs racing lost multiple vital sponsors over the years. With a major focus shifting towards F1, NASCAR has already lost multiple sponsors such as Lowe’s, Target, UPS, and Home Depot. Moreover, NASCAR viewership is falling significantly. Therefore, the brands simply did not find their return on the investment to be worth it.
With M&M’s announcing its withdrawal earlier this year, the team now has a significant reduction in its finances. Therefore, Joe Gibbs racing must keep its financial budget at the forefront of its future considerations. Reports also suggested that the team was discussing future collaborations with Oracle for major sponsorship. However, the deal never materialized. Kyle knows that his salary is no longer one that his team can afford. Hence, the two-time champion agreed to make compromises to stay with the team.
Kyle stated, “I don’t think money has ever been the objective or ever been the issue,” he further added, “Obviously, I know what the sports landscape is. I know what’s happening. The talk from my side was that I know there need to be concessions made and to race for under my market value, and I’ve accepted that and told everybody that and just trying to see where all that lies.”
While reducing his salary does significantly increase his chances of staying with Joe Gibbs, contract talks still seem quite bleak. David Wilson -the president of Toyota Racing Development- agreed that they still face multiple hurdles when discussing the Kyle Busch contract. However, Wilson admitted that the team does have backup options if the contract does not fall through.
Alternative Placements Following Kyle Busch Contract Expiration
While Busch made clear his preference of wanting to stick with Joe Gibbs at the number 18 Toyota, he knows he must have contingencies in place. He confirmed that there are ongoing discussions with other teams for the 2023 season. He does not have any specific time frame for locking in a deal. It is essential that he keeps his emotions on the sideline and explores every possible option he has. He must do this to increase the chances of locking in a place for 2023.
The champion racer explained, “I feel as though I’ve said, and I’ll continue to say, my first goal is to stay at Joe Gibbs Racing. But if the musical chairs music stops, and I’m still standing, and I don’t have a seat, I’m screwed”.
He thus admitted to talking with different brands and assessing his position in each team in order to ensure the best possible scenario for him.
Practically looking at it, the only other team Toyota has in the cup series is 23XI Racing. Unfortunately, as of now, this team does not have any open spots available for the upcoming year. However, how future talks pan out is anyone’s guess. Busch’s statement clearly indicates that he is in talks with other teams without admitting which teams these may be.
If Busch does decide to leave Toyota as a whole, this may have major implications for Kyle Busch Motorsports as well. The company might as well have to switch manufacturers following this decision. This switch would likely have an undeniable financial impact on the company. Regardless of where the game’s highest-paid racer ends up, he has his eyes on breaking Richard Petty’s record of 18 back-to-back wins. With his 2022 season coming to an end, Kyle has a solid 18 seasons down in his pocket and needs just one more to break the record.
Rumors Regarding Contract
With little hope of Kyle renewing his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing, rumours regarding the racer’s future are doing the rounds. Busch joked that these rumours definitely had him entertained amidst the intense contract talks. A rumour alleged that Busch might leave NASCAR and join a different racing league. However, according to Kyle, this option may be the last one on his list. Although, he claimed that he may not rule it out completely yet.
The champion racer is surely taking these flying suggestions lightheartedly. He joked about getting “a kick out of it.” In fact, he finds these rumours to be hilarious because they often suggest options that Kyle may never have even thought of. He mocked that the creativity of the rumours makes him want to explore the suggested options as well. However, Busch admits that things are quite intense right now, and he is simply trying to sort it all out. Whatever decision he takes regarding his future may most certainly shape his future. Therefore, it is essential that he stays focused and weighs each factor into his final decision.
Busch’s performance in the 2022 season definitely showed that the champion racecar driver still has potential. He is currently at the eighth position in the Cup Series points table following his win at the Bristol Motor Speedway’s dirt.
Unfortunately, his more recent 6 six races seem to have disappointing outcomes. Busch was not able to secure a place in the top 10 in these races. In fact, in 5 of them, he came in at the 20th position, or even lower. However, the crew head, Ben Beshore, confirms that Kyle’s performance in the recent races has no link to his contract talks.
From what we currently know, it seems like the two have all possible options laid out on the table. Both want the best outcome and are willing to discuss any possible route for it. We hope to see Busch return for the 2023 season with greater potential and a winning mindset.