A key decision-maker at Joe Gibbs Racing has delivered a strong message about Kyle Busch‘s future. President Dave Alpern has made it very clear that the team wants the two-time Cup Series champion back in the No. 18 for the 2023 season.
Alpern made the comments during a teleconference prior to the race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He explained that Busch does not yet have a contract for the 2023 season and that the search for a primary sponsor remains ongoing. Busch will lose Mars Inc. as his primary partner after the 2022 season, so this search has been a hot topic throughout the year.
“We’ve been pretty consistent since the end of last season, which is we want Kyle to be in the [No.] 18 car and that’s our plan,” Alpern said, transcript courtesy of NASCAR Media. “We’re still working on sponsorship, and as much interest as there is in our sport, these take a long time.
“And admittedly, this one’s taking a little longer than we thought. It’s not for lack of interest. It’s just trying to get everything put together. So those will probably happen in parallel. And, again, we’re hoping to get something decided here in the very near future.”
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Alpern Explained the Delay in Landing a New Partner
The JGR president provided more information about the search and indicated that there are no concerns ahead of Mars’ departure. Alpern also noted that the team has “been in the business” of securing partners for the past 30 years.
The reason for the delay, as he explained, is that this isn’t a simple situation where the team signs any interested partner and puts their logo on the car. Instead, JGR has the goal of finding “the right fit” for Busch and the No. 18 team. Alpern clarified that he feels confident Busch will have a good partner on the Toyota Camry during the 2023 season.
There is no guarantee that Busch will return to the No. 18 Toyota Camry, especially with Joe Gibbs Racing continuing its search for a primary partner. However, the Cup Series team and Toyota Racing Development have been in lockstep all season about Busch’s future.
The 2023 Season Could Shake Up Another Series
Will Busch return to Joe Gibbs Racing for another season? There is no clear answer as of early July. However, his future will have an effect on another member of the organization, one that competes in another series.
Alpern addressed Ty Gibbs’ future during the teleconference. He explained that Plan A is keeping the 19-year-old in the Xfinity Series season for a second full-time campaign. The goal is for Gibbs to contend for the championship in 2022 after he has already reached Victory Lane four times and then have him return to the No. 54 once again.
JGR doesn’t want to push Gibbs too fast, but Busch’s contract situation will create conversations. If the two-time Cup Series champion does not return to the organization, he will leave an opening in a competitive car. This seat could ultimately go to Gibbs while his departure shifts the balance of power in the Xfinity Series. Though this option is more of a Plan B for the organization.