Joe Gibbs provides an update on Kyle Busch contract, No. 18 car sponsorship

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·3 min read
Jeff Siner/jsiner@charlotteobserver.com
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A month ago, two-time NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch was asked by reporters at Talladega about his feelings regarding his future with Joe Gibbs Racing and a timeframe for when he wanted his driving plans for next season to be finalized.

“Yesterday,” he responded.

The No. 18 Toyota team’s longtime M&M’s sponsor announced last year that it would be leaving NASCAR after the 2022 season, prompting questions that haven’t been fully answered surrounding Busch’s future at the powerhouse Cup team.

“Are you getting antsy about it?” Busch was asked at the time.

“I’m not getting antsy about it. If it happens, it happens. If it don’t, it don’t. Goodbye,” he said.

“So goodbye is an option?”

“Ask Joe Gibbs,” Busch responded.

Gibbs, the former NFL coach who is the owner of Joe Gibbs Racing, provided an update on Monday regarding the team’s sponsorship and contract conversations.

“We’re really confident that we’re going to have that (No. 18) car squared away, sponsorship-wise, and we’re trying to work on our deal right now with Kyle,” Gibbs said. “So I think we feel good about it.”

Gibbs previously told FOX Sports at the time of Busch’s comments that JGR was “confident we’re going to get things done. So we’re just working hard at it. It takes a while.”

Given Gibbs’ latest comments, Toyota’s desire to keep Busch in their family and a report last week from the Sports Business Journal that indicated JGR is in advanced discussions with a major technology company for a deal for the No. 18 car, it appears that JGR has a clear desire to keep Busch in its lineup.

With 60 wins and 232 top-five finishes across his Cup career, Busch is thought to be one of the highest-paid drivers in NASCAR. The departure of M&M’s will leave a big gap in JGR’s sponsorship, in the $20 to 25 million range in annual sponsorship revenue, according to SBJ.

Gibbs also spoke highly of his organization’s other drivers, which include Cup Series champion Martin Truex Jr., three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin and one-time race winner Christopher Bell, who has won the pole position three times this year.

“We’ve got three veteran guys that we feel like every weekend when we go (to the racetrack) can win, and we’ve got a young one now where it’s coming to a point where we think he’s ready to start winning races too,” Gibbs said. “Love our guys. You’re always constantly trying to search for sponsorships, extend their contracts, and so that’s part of what we do. We’re going as hard as we can.”

Gibbs also indicated that the plan for JGR is to keep his grandson, 19-year-old Ty Gibbs, in the lower-level Xfinity Series for another season.

“We want to be real careful, take our time, and so really our goal was to keep him in Xfinity for two years, and so this is his first year really,” Gibbs said. “I think he’s had 23 or 24 Xfinity races, so the game plan is two years for sure in Xfinity. Make sure we don’t rush him.”

Gibbs is running full-time in JGR’s No. 54 car for the first time this year. Last year, he ran a part-time schedule in the No. 54, and won four out of the 18 races he competed in. He has three wins in 12 races so far this season.

While Gibbs’ eventual graduation to the Cup level seems inevitable, it appears that it’s not imminent.