Kyle Busch to join Richard Childress Racing for 2023 NASCAR Cup season

Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch has announced that he will join Richard Childress Racing and the Chevrolet camp next season, leaving Joe Gibbs Racing after 15 years together.

The 37-year-old will drive the #8 Chevrolet for team owner Richard Childress beginning in the 2023 season, bringing to an end a fruitful partnership with the JGR Toyota team that began in 2008.

“This is probably one of the biggest decisions of my life, my career,” Busch said.

“I’m thankful to Joe [Gibbs] for allowing me to be a kid and grow into a man. Most days, most of the time...

“Coach, you had my back when I needed it the most. Thank you.”

In a gesture of good will, Childress also offered Busch’s son Brexton a future contract option with RCR.

“The addition of Kyle Busch to the Richard Childress Racing lineup is significant, not only for our organisation, but for the sport as a whole,” said Childress.

“Kyle is a proven contender at the highest levels of the sport, and I believe that his experience and dedication to motorsports will elevate our race program across the board.

“I’ve always admired Kyle’s driving style and his ability to win and race for championships ever since he entered the sport. Who wouldn’t want a proven NASCAR Cup Series Champion driving their car?”

Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing, 3CHI Chevrolet Camaro

Tyler Reddick, Richard Childress Racing, 3CHI Chevrolet Camaro

Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images

RCR said Tyler Reddick, who currently drives the #8 Chevrolet, will continue to serve out the remaining year of his contract in 2023.

“We’d like to welcome Kyle back to Team Chevy, where he started his NASCAR career,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance and Motorsports.

“As a 60 Cup race winner and two-time champion, he will be a valuable addition to Richard Childress Racing and the Chevrolet line-up. We look forward to working with Kyle starting in 2023.”

Busch’s decision ends a very protracted, public and initially unplanned free agency involving one of NASCAR’s top stars.

Busch – and by extension his Kyle Busch Motorsports team that competes in the third-tier Truck Series – has been the anchor of Toyota’s success in all three NASCAR national series.

Of his 520 career starts in the Cup series, all but 114 have come while driving for JGR and Toyota. In addition, 56 of his 60 career wins – and both series championships – as well as 30 of his 32 career poles have come driving for JGR and Toyota.

Busch also has 102 wins in the second-tier Xfinity Series and 62 in the Truck Series. He is the all-time leader in wins in both series.

Busch entered the 2022 Cup season without a contract extension with JGR in large part due to the decision by longtime sponsor Mars Inc. – announced in December 2021 – that it would end its NASCAR sponsorship at the conclusion of the 2022 season.

He has been sponsored by M&M Mars since 2008 and Mars Inc. has been involved in NASCAR sponsorships for more than 25 years.

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, M&M's Toyota Camry

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, M&M's Toyota Camry

Photo by: David Rosenblum / NKP / Motorsport Images

JGR has been unable to secure a primary sponsor for Busch’s #18 Toyota which would be comparable to the size of the financial investment from Mars Inc., although team officials have said they have come “close” on other prospects.

That has led Busch to exploring options, including those from other manufacturers.

In recent weeks, it was believed Busch was working on two viable options. One was moving to fellow Toyota team 23XI Racing, which is co-owned by Busch’s JGR team-mate Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan. That option was expected to cause the least issue with Busch’s KBM organisation.

The other was joining RCR, which was looking for a new infusion of top talent after current driver Reddick informed the team in mid-July that he would not return to the organisation once his current contract expired at the end of the 2023 season. Reddick will join 23XI in 2024.

However, Busch has had a frosty relationship with RCR owner Richard Childress during his career. In 2011, Childress got into an altercation with Busch in the garage at Kansas Speedway that resulted in NASCAR fining Childress $150,000 and placing him on probation for the rest of the season.

Asked at Kansas this past weekend how he could consider driving for Childress considering their history, Busch said: “The first time I sat down with him everything was OK and the biggest thing about it was just having the opportunity to put that behind us.”

The inability of JGR to secure a primary sponsor and the lengthy negotiations leading to a new home for Busch in the Cup Series had taken a visible toll on the Las Vegas native in recent weeks.

In an interview last month at Watkins Glen, Busch said whatever he decided “there’s a big change coming”.

“Is it worth it to go run around and not have an opportunity to win right away versus building something versus jumping in something that can win? All those questions are certainly being weighed out,” he said then.

“Again, that’s also why it’s not so simple and so easy. So, thankfully there are opportunities out there, here are Cup jobs available. But again, it will not look the same as what it has for the last 15 years.”

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