The two-time Cup Series champion made the comments on April 23 at Talladega Superspeedway. He explained that he would like to have his contract situation handled “yesterday” before shutting down the notion that he is getting “antsy” as the season continues.
“I’m not getting antsy about it,” Busch said, transcript courtesy of NASCAR Media. “If it happens, it happens. If it don’t, it don’t. Goodbye.” The driver of the No. 18 continued and explained that he hasn’t been knocking on Gibbs’ door about his contract status due to it hinging on sponsorship for the 2023 season.
“You’ve gotta sell it,” Busch added. “If you don’t sell it, then there’s nothing to sell. Nothing to have.” He continued and said that the Camping World Truck Series lineup is “probably 90% kids with money.”
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Jenna Fryer of The Associated Press specifically asked Busch if he would retire if he couldn’t return to Joe Gibbs Racing. He shut down that idea by saying that he would just tell people that he lost his ride, which was a reference to Cole Trickle in “Days of Thunder.”
Mars Will Leave Busch & JGR After the 2022 Season
The reason for the uncertainty is that no one knows the status of Busch’s sponsors heading toward the 2023 season. Longtime partner Mars will depart the No. 18 team and Joe Gibbs Racing after one final run in 2022, which leaves the majority of the races open for a replacement.
Interstate Batteries has already confirmed that it will return to JGR in both the Xfinity Series and Cup Series. The partner agreed to a multi-year extension prior to the 2022 season, which included six races on Busch’s No. 18 and three on Gibbs’ No. 18 during the 2022 season. The team did not announce the number of races for the 2023 season.
Based on Busch’s comments and others from JGR co-owner Coy Gibbs, it appears that there is no replacement yet. Though Gibbs explained that Busch winning at Bristol Motor Speedway would only help with the potential options.
“Yeah, so, I don’t deal with the sponsorship stuff directly,” Gibbs told media members on April 17, transcript courtesy of ASAPSports. “I kind of stick on the competition side. But we’ve got a couple people we’re talking to, so we’re excited about that, excited about the leads. I think anytime you win it helps. I honestly think it helps.”
Busch Is in His 15th Season With JGR
The veteran Cup Series driver has spent the vast majority of his career with JGR. He ran full-time for Hendrick Motorsports from 2005 to 2007, but he joined JGR in 2008. Busch has spent every other season since with the organization while driving the No. 18.
Busch has achieved a considerable amount of success with JGR. He has posted 56 of his 60 career wins with the team while also capturing two championship trophies with Mars as his primary partner.
Considering Busch’s past success and his age — he will turn 37 during the 2022 season — there is the expectation that JGR will keep him around for 2023 and beyond. There aren’t many obvious replacements unless Joe Gibbs decides to move his grandson Ty up to the Cup Series after only one full-time year in Xfinity.
Of course, the number of available sponsors will dictate Busch’s future with the organization. If there are partners ready and willing to join the No. 18 for 2023, it will be inevitable that Busch returns for another year. If not, he could enter the offseason without a guaranteed seat.