The ongoing situation surrounding Kyle Busch and his contract negotiations has taken an interesting twist. “Stacking Pennies” host Corey LaJoie has provided new details about the number of NASCAR teams trying to secure the two-time champion’s services.
The driver of the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro provided the update during the August 17 episode of his podcast. LaJoie, Ryan Flores, and Jonathan Merryman first sat down and discussed several pressing topics, including RFK Racing’s recent speed and the on-track battle between Ty Gibbs and Busch. LaJoie then revealed that there are four potential teams that have offers out to Busch.
“Kyle Busch is not driving the 18 car next year,” LaJoie said during the episode. “It’s not happening. I hate it for the Kyle Busch fans. He will find a job, somewhere. I’m hearing some rumors there are certainly offers on the table. A potential Chevy team — two potential Chevy teams — a potential Ford team, and there’s also an option potentially with Toyota.”
LaJoie added more intrigue with another comment about Busch’s potential replacement. He said that he thinks they will see “our little buddy” in the No. 18 Toyota, which was a reference to Gibbs.
ALL the latest NASCAR news straight to your inbox! Subscribe to the Heavy on NASCAR newsletter here!
Only 1 Ford Team Stands Out as an Option
There are multiple intriguing options for Busch, but the Ford team is fairly easy to discern. Busch will not be going to smaller teams such as Rick Ware Racing or Live Fast Motorsports. They don’t have the funding or the competitive cars.
RFK Racing, for comparison, already has Chris Buescher locked up on a multi-year deal while Brad Keselowski is in his first season as a driver/owner. Busch and Keselowski also have a contentious history.
What about Team Penske? Well, Dustin Long of NBC sports asked that exact question at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He asked team owner Roger Penske if there would be any interest in bringing Busch into the fold. Penske made it clear that he supports the current drivers in his lineup. Weeks later, the team signed Ryan Blaney to a long-term extension.
“We’ve really got four cars that we’re involved in today,” Penske said. “We support the Wood Brothers and obviously Harrison [Burton]. We’re full of drivers, and we’re happy with the guys we have there. They’re young and ready to go, and I think our sponsors are fully aligned with us.
“It’s interesting that Kyle hasn’t gotten a spot yet. Look … he’s one of the best out there. I think his expectations, along with what the sponsors and the teams want to step up with, sometimes that doesn’t align. So at the moment, I think we’ll wait and see.”
The only true remaining option is Stewart-Haas Racing. Kevin Harvick and Chase Briscoe are locked into their respective entries, but there are questions about the other two drivers. Aric Almirola said before the season that he will retire, but he has also acknowledged that there have been discussions about his potential return in 2023.
Cole Custer, for comparison, seems to be in the most tenuous situation amid a season of struggles. Though chief competition officer Greg Zipadelli told media members on August 17 that the current plan is to keep Custer in 2023.
The Chevrolet Teams Remain a Mystery
While SHR seems to be the top option for the “potential Ford team,” as LaJoie described it, there are more unknowns surrounding the “two potential Chevrolet teams.” There are multiple organizations that work with Chevrolet in the Cup Series, but only Hendrick Motorsports stands out as the main team that won’t get in the mix.
Chase Elliott and William Byron both signed multi-year contract extensions in 2022, which will keep them in their respective rides for the foreseeable future. Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson are both under contract through 2023.
Two other teams that are out of the proverbial lottery are Petty GMS Motorsports and JTG Daugherty Racing. The former recently signed both Erik Jones and Noah Gragson to deals while the latter extended Ricky Stenhouse Jr. back in June.
Two intriguing options, albeit ones that would have to acquire another charter, are newer to the Cup Series. Kaulig Racing and Trackhouse Racing both have owners — Matt Kaulig and Justin Marks — that are willing to make strong moves, and they want to continue establishing themselves at the top level of NASCAR.
Acquiring Busch would not be a simple — or inexpensive — task for Kaulig or Marks. It would likely require tens of millions of dollars. However, it is the type of bold move that would further show their dedication to the sport.
The final two Chevrolet teams — Spire Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing — seem to be less realistic. Spire has LaJoie as its main full-time driver while multiple competitors rotate starts in the No. 77. The team is smaller in size with fewer partners, so funding would also present a significant hurdle.
RCR is a different situation. The team has cars capable of winning, as well as multiple partners. However, Austin Dillon has a secure spot in the No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro. Tyler Reddick will depart RCR for 23XI Racing, but his move will not happen until after the 2023 season, barring an unexpected change.
The lack of seats is one reason why Busch is unlikely to go to RCR. Another potential reason dates back to the 2011 season when Childress and Busch got into a physical altercation after a Truck Series race.
There is no footage of the incident, but ESPN’s Marty Smith reported at the time that Childress “took off his wristwatch, walked up to Busch, got him in a headlock, and went to beating on him” after Busch made contact with Joey Coulter on the cooldown lap.