Time is ticking on NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch and his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR).
With each passing day, Busch’s future looks more uncertain. His current deal is up at the end of the 2022 campaign. With just two races left in the regular season before the playoffs begin, he’s yet to ink an extension with JGR, whom he’s been with since 2008. It’s not an easy situation for Busch to be in, saying Saturday that it’s been “hard as hell.”
“It’s been hard as hell. It’s been a lot of sleepless nights figuring out what your future is and all that sort of stuff… I’m a racer and I’ve only ever known how to race, nothing else,” Busch said, via Dustin Long of NBC Sports. “I’ve been trying to do other business projects and things like that, but none of them have really blown up and taken off. So, it has been hard and figuring out all of that is certainly tough.”
Kyle Busch, who will start 10th in the Go Bowling at The Glen from Watkins Glen International Sunday, said while it was difficult 15 years ago going through contract negotiations, it pales in comparison to what it’s like this time around.
“The first time I went through this was 15 years ago, and it was a learning experience. It was hard then too, but it was nothing like now,” Busch said. “Then it was just me, myself and I. I didn’t have Samantha [wife], I didn’t have a son. I didn’t have a daughter. All I had was an agent that was helping me.
“It’s way, way harder because now you have Kyle Busch Motorsports that you’ve got to think about, you’ve got a building that you’ve got to pay on, you know, you’ve got a building note and all that sort of stuff. So, there’s a lot of pieces and that’s why it’s not so simple.”
How Did it Get to This Point for Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing?
Busch’s future has been murky dating back to when the season began. Mars Inc. — Busch’s longtime sponsor — announced their intentions to leave the sport at the end of the season. Several brands under the Mars Inc. umbrella include M&M’s, Skittles, Snickers and Pedigree, all staples of Busch’s paint schemes over the years. JGR has said in the past they’d like to keep Busch and find a new sponsorship deal. As of now, however, the 60-time race winner is sponsor-less for the 2023 season.
Busch has indicated that he’d be willing to take a pay cut to stay at JGR. He is currently one of NASCAR’s highest-paid drivers at nearly $17 million a season. Winning remains the priority for the 37-year-old, who said a “big change” is coming.
“You want to be able to go somewhere that you feel you have a legit shot to race, to win,” Busch said. “I don’t feel like it’s fair to me or my family or anything else if we’re going to have to spend less time together moving forward because we are going to have to change our lifestyle, no questions. There’s a big change coming.
“And so, is it worth it to go run around and not have an opportunity to win right away versus building something versus jumping in something that can win? All those questions are certainly being weighed out.”
Winning has been hard to come by for Kyle Busch this season, as he’s made his way to victory lane just once. He is locked into the playoffs, sitting ninth in the points standings heading into Sunday.