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Busch On The Move: Needed To ‘Hit Reset’

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 13 2022

Kyle Busch hopes to spray a lot of champagne at RCR. (File photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer
RacinToday.com

Two-time NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch and NASCAR championship team owner Richard Childress mended fences from about a decade ago and confirmed Tuesday they would join forces in a multi-year deal starting in 2023.

“I had to find a place where I knew I can go win races immediately,” Busch said when explaining his decision to join Richard Childress Racing. “Collecting trophies is still the main reason why I get up every day and go to the race track. In order to do this every week, I also needed a place where I felt like I could hit reset, and I could be welcome just as I am. This change will allow for a clean slate and that’s big for me and my family. New team, new teammates, most importantly, a new boss who accepts where I’ve been, and yet can help me get to where I want to be.”

Childress was furious at Busch in June 2011 at Kansas Speedway for a comment he made after an intense battle between himself and Joey Coulter for fifth place in a NASCAR Truck race. Childress’ told a co-worker to, “Hold my watch” before he put Busch in a headlock and then punched him several times before Busch fell to the ground in the track’s garage. The two began Tuesday’s press conference with Childress handing Busch a box and telling him to hold his watch.

“We both have grown a whole lot over time,” Childress responded when asked about that incident. “We talked about it and all that’s history. I like talking about the future and learning from the history. I’ve made a few mistakes in my life.” 

Childress’ respect for Busch’s talent overrode any ill feelings he had for Busch in the past. 

“I’ve watched his talent for many years …and just how he handles the car,” Childress said. “The car control, the way he drives a car, and take-no-prisoners attitude. That’s the Dale Earnhardt style that I was accustomed to racing with. I think Kyle has that modern-day style of racing that Dale Earnhardt had in his time.” 

Busch’s move to Richard Childress Racing ends a 15-year run at Joe Gibbs Racing where he drove a Toyota to Cup titles in 2015 and 2019. It also means Kyle Busch Motorsports, which has been a driving talent pipeline for Toyota in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, will become a Chevrolet operation.

“We are still working on all that sort of stuff with General Motors and Chevrolet,” Busch said. “Kyle Busch Motorsports intends to compete in the truck series as a Chevrolet branded team next year whether that’s two, three, four entries, we’re not quite certain on that yet. We’re working through those details.” 

During Tuesday’s press conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Childress said Busch would drive the No. 8 Chevrolet and Randall Burnett would continue as that team’s crew chief. The No. 8 is currently campaigned by Tyler Reddick. Childress said he talked with Reddick an hour before the press conference and explained the situation to him. He said Reddick would still drive for him next year and that RCR would be a three-car Cup operation in 2023. Childress said he was in the process of acquiring a third charter. 

Reddick has already signed a contract with 21XI Racing and will move to the Toyota camp in 2024. That announcement came in mid-July after Reddick signed a one-year deal with RCR in March.  

The possibility of Busch moving to Childress surfaced at Daytona last month. Since then, Childress and Busch would neither confirm nor deny that the 37-year-old Busch was moving his driving talents to Welcome, N.C. Busch once said he had several options in front of him and he had more to consider than just himself, noting his family and KBM. At the beginning of the press conference, Childress gave 7-year-old Brexton Busch a contract that gives RCR first option on him. 

Shortly after the press conference began, Joe Gibbs released a statement on Twitter thanking Busch for his contributions to JGR and wishing the Las Vegas native and his family well.

“When you look at all that he has accomplished already, it is truly remarkable, and we know someday we will be celebrating his Hall of Fame induction,” Gibbs said in the statement. “We also know he still has many more achievements in our sport ahead of him, including competing for the championship this season.”

TRD U.S.A President David Wilson also released a statement on Twitter. While wishing Busch well, Wilson noted Toyota was “disappointed and saddened” that his future wouldn’t continue with them. 

“Kyle has been an ambassador for Toyota since joining the program in 2008,” Wilson said in the statement. “He’s gone on to accumulate some of the most prestigious milestones possible for the Toyota brand, including our first Cup Series win for the Camry and first Cup Series championship. He will undoubtedly hold the record for the most wins in a Toyota across all three championship series for decades to come.”

The possibility of Busch leaving JGR and Toyota surfaced in early summer when a sponsor JGR thought it had to replace M&Ms for the No. 18 car fell through. 

M&Ms parent company announced before the season began that it was leaving NASCAR at the end of the 2022 season. 

By mid-summer, Wilson admitted it didn’t look promising that Busch would remain in the Toyota camp.

Childress said he reached out to Busch after his grandson Austin Dillon, driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet at RCR, asked him what he thought about putting the Las Vegas native in the No. 8. Childress said he thought that “would be a dream”, so he asked Dillon to set up a meeting for him with Busch. Childress said, “we had a lot of work to do to make it happen”, but the two men accomplished their goal. 

 

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Tuesday, September 13 2022
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