Rowdy Decides…18 Becomes 8

There has been a great deal of speculation all season long where Joe Gibbs Racing driver would be for the 2023 season.  Would he return to JGR and the number 18 car with a new sponsor or would he move to a new team and car number.

 All of those questions were answered in a press conference on September 13 held at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, North Carolina.

 Coining a phrase from LeBron James, Busch said, “I’ll be taking my talents to Welcome, North Carolina to drive the number eight car starting in 2023.”

 Such thanked car owner for his patience adding, “you guys took a chance at a kid 15 years ago to let me drive a race car, and we hit the ground running; who allowed me to be a kid and grow into a man, most days.”

Car owner Joe Gibbs issued a statement saying, “Kyle has been a major part of our history and success here at Joe Gibbs Racing. We are thankful for all his contributions to our organization over the years.  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.”

Speaking on new car owner Kyle Busch said, “RCR has an impressive history in NASCAR and I’m honoured that Richard is putTing his trust in me to come in and continue to build on tHat legacy.  Growing up in a family of passionate racers myself, I feel like the culture that the Childress family has built within their organization will be an ideal fit for me.  As I  begin the next chapter of my career, I’m looking forward to driving for RCR and working with everyone there to add more wins and. Hampionships to both our resumes.”

Even before the season began, Busch’s primary sponsor Mars Wrigley announced that they would end their sponsorship of the number 18 car which frequently carried the comical M&M characters once the 2022 season was over.  So the search began for a new sponsor.  A search that is ongoing.

In the meantime, it was revealed that the driver of the number 18 car, Kyle Busch, was in the final year of his contract.  As the season progressed, negotiations dragged on until Busch finally admitted that he was in contact with other car owners.  Over the weekend rumors began to fly that Busch had made his decision.  On Tuesday morning, wearing his two championship rings – both won while driving for JGR – , Kyle Busch revealed that he would be moving to Richard Childress Racing after spending 15 years at JGR.

Tyler Reddick is the current driver of the number eight car but announced in July that beginning with the 2024 season he would be moving on to 23XI Racing. 

After telling Reddick that Busch would be taking over the driving duties for the number eight car just one hour before the press conference, Richard Childress said that Reddick would remain with RCR for the 2023 season where he will field a third RCR car.  Reddick is among the current list of 16 playoff drivers in eleventh place; as is teammate Austin Dillon, who is in 14th place.  RCR last won a championship in 1994 when Dale Earnhardt Sr won his seventh and final championship.

New car owner Richard Childress joined. Busch at the press conference where he presented Busch with a watch and seven year old son Brexton with an option to sign a contract with RCR. And Childress has given Busch permission to run in the Indianapolis 500 if he wants to do so in the future.

The watch stems from an altercation between Childress and Busch in 2011 where Childress removed his watch and handing it to someone saying, “hold my watch” before putting Busch in a headlock.  The two have long since resolved their differences and it was instrumental in Childress being able to land Busch as a new driver on the time.

Childress noted that the atmosphere in his race shop has been electric since the rumors began; adding that when he looks into Kyle Busch’s eyes, he sees the same fire for competition that he once saw in Dale Earnhardt Sr.  Speaking on Busch, Childress said, “the addition of Kyle Busch to the Richard Childress Racing lineup is significant, not only for our organization, but for the sport as a whole.  Kyle is a proven contender at the highest levels of the sport, and I believe that his experience and dedication to motorsports will elevate our race program across the board. I’ve always admired Kyle’s driving style and his ability to win and race for championships ever since he entered the sport. Who wouldn’t want a proven NASCAR Cup Series champion driving their car?”

In fact, it was Childress’ grandson, Austin Dillon, who approached his Grandfather and broached the subject of driving for RCR.

Along with driver Kyle Busch, comes Truck Series owner Kyle Busch who has fielded a three truck team in the Camping World Truck Series using Toyota trucks.  Beginning next season, KBM will switch to Chevrolets but it is not known at this time whether Busch will continue with a three truck team.

Parting manufacturer Toyota also issued a statement on Busch and his leaving the team saying, “we’re disappointed and saddened that his future won’t continue to be with Team Toyota.  Kyle has been an ambassador for Toyota since joining the program in 2008. He’s gone on to accumulate some of the most prestigious milestones possible for the Toyota brand. He will undoubtedly hold the record for the most wins in a Toyota across all three Championship Series for decades to come.”  Busch has 56 Cup wins driving a Toyota; as well as, numerous Xfinity and Truck Series wins.

President of Toyota Development David Wilson frequently noted that having Busch anywhere but with Toyota was unacceptable; adding that he didn’t want to face a pissed off Kyle Busch on the track.

“But more than that, Kyle has been a friend, part of our family and has played a key role in the development of many of our drivers through his ownership of Kyle Busch Motorsports. We wish nothing but the best for Kyle and his entire family as he moves into the next chapter of his Hall of Fame career. We’re thankful to have been along for the ride,” they added.

Kyle Busch began his Cup Series career with Rick Hendrick at the age of 19, but was let go after three years to make way for Dale Earnhardt Jr.  since that time he has racked up a total of 60 Cup Series races, 60 Truck Series Races, and 102 Xfinity Series races to top the list of total race wins.  He currently has a streak of at least one race win in each of the past 18 seasons.

As a Truck Series team owner he has 98 wins and two championships with Erik Jones and Christopher Bell.  This season KBM full time drivers Chandler Smith and John Hunter Nemechek are currently in the top four of the eight remaining playoff drivers.

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