The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season will mark the final ride for a key partner of Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing. Mars has announced that it will depart after 2022 and will end a 15-year relationship with the team, as well as a 30-year tenure in NASCAR that is the longest-running sponsor deal in the sport.
Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal broke the news on Monday, December 20. He spoke to JGR President Dave Alpern, who confirmed the departure and said that the team remains confident about finding a replacement. Alpern also noted that Mars gave the organization notice over the summer, providing more than a year to find a replacement.
According to Alpern, the decision to leave NASCAR and JGR does not relate to a lack of return on investment. After all, the partnership with Busch has been one of the most successful in the sport. Alpern told Stern that Mars has a “finite budget” and that the company wants to “try some new things.”
Mars and Joe Gibbs Racing will spend the 2022 season celebrating the partnership that led to two NASCAR Cup Series championships. The plans are still in development, but they will likely involve special paint schemes and activations at retail locations.
“One of the great things I love about NASCAR is the opportunity to build meaningful relationships,” team owner Joe Gibbs said in a statement. “Mars has been a tremendous example of that. We have experienced so much together over the past 15 years, including two Cup Series championships, while developing friendships that will extend well beyond next year. I know everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing feels that way and I’m glad we have the 2022 season to celebrate Mars and the contributions they have made to our sport over the past three decades.”
Busch & Mars Achieved Greatness Together
Mars and M&M’s worked with drivers prior to joining forces with Busch in 2008. However, the move to join Rowdy led to immediate success on the track and numerous trips to Victory Lane. The number of M&M’s merchandise at the track each week also showed that the fans embraced the partnership.
Busch won eight Cup Series races during the 2008 season, his first with Mars as a partner. He first took the company to Victory Lane at Atlanta Motor Speedway while driving a Snickers car and then added wins at such tracks as Talladega Superspeedway and Darlington Raceway.
Along with reaching Victory Lane 55 times with Mars brands on his stock car, Busch also capped off two memorable seasons. He won the Cup Series championships in 2015 and 2019 with M&M’s on the No. 18 Toyota. Each season, he secured his title by winning the final race with M&M’s as his primary partner.
“I have been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to represent Mars for nearly 15 years now,” Busch said in a statement on December 20. “During this time, Mars Associates have been like family to myself, Samantha, and Brexton. In particular, my friendship with the Mars Family will be something that will last a lifetime. We have a relationship so much deeper than just having the honor of driving their colorful cars.
“I’m also proud that we’ve been able to bring them to victory lane 55 times in the Cup Series, including two Cup Series championships. I know our 18 team will work as hard as ever to bring them to victory lane as many times as we can in 2022 and hopefully even another championship we can celebrate together.”
The relationship with Mars will end after the 2022 season, but the company wants to go out on top. Alpern said during his interview with Stern that Mars has “made it clear” that the company wants to win the championship in 2022 before exiting NASCAR.
JGR Addressed Busch’s Future With the Organization
With the primary partner of the No. 18 leaving NASCAR, there were immediate questions about Busch’s future. However, Alpern quickly shut them down by clarifying Busch’s future.
The JGR president confirmed to Stern that Busch remains a part of the organization’s plans after 2022. “Kyle is a huge part of our company and will be a huge part of our company,” he said during the interview while adding that JGR will work with agencies to find brands that could replace Mars.
Busch already has one sponsor secure beyond the 2022 season. JGR announced on October 15 that Interstate Batteries had agreed to a multi-year extension that will include six races as the primary partner of Busch in 2022 and three with Ty Gibbs in the Xfinity Series. The company will continue its partnership that has lasted more than 30 years and featured dozens of wins while JGR strives to find a replacement for Mars.