Behind-the-scenes footage captured the emotional ride of the NASCAR champion seeking a new contract for 2023
At the end of the 2022 season, MARS Incorporated announced they would not be returning to NASCAR. That put Joe Gibbs Racing to work as they searched for a new sponsor for the No. 18 driven by Kyle Busch.
Busch had spent 15 years with the organization. He collected two championships with the team, the most recent in 2015.
However, the search for a new sponsor came up empty. It put Busch into free-agency and he began taking offers from new teams.
“What’s crazy is to be in this position in someone’s prime,” Busch said in “Race for the Championship” Episode 8. “Change is scary, right? You’ve been in a place for 14-15 years that you’ve built into winning races, winning championships. Going somewhere else is scary, yeah.”
However, at the time he said that, Busch was scouting multiple offers to drive for a new team. Each of those teams had won races. He’s essentially choosing where he’ll end his career.
Busch added, “Yeah, it would be nice to not go through this again, this sucks.”
Samantha Busch jumped in, “I never thought we’d go through this.”
Kyle responded, “Not from all the words that we were given, for years. Of, ‘Oh, you’re our guy. You’re our franchise. You’re going to retire here.’ “
Busch concluded, “Whether you call it false promises or whatever, that’s the scary piece.”
Kyle Busch frustrated with lack of support system
After a disappointing race at Kansas Speedway, Kyle Busch was asked how he keeps motivated. “I don’t know. I don’t have anybody around me right now, helping me do that.”
That’s just one of many statements from Kyle Busch that clearly stated he wasn’t going to return to JGR. However, at the time, no announcement was made on Busch’s 2023 contract. But, the writing was all over the walls.
Busch commented on closing out 2022 with Joe Gibbs Racing, after it became clear to him and the team that the No. 18 would be piloted by someone else in 2023.
“Something that is so disappointing to me, and so hurtful about this whole situation with JGR, is they were like family,” Busch said in Episode 8 of ‘Race for the Championship’.
“For 15 years, Joe had my back in the stupidest of moments that Kyle Busch was. Like, he was there for me and it’s gone. It just flipped and gone and it’s like nothing I’ve ever been a part of.”
“What if we just did a mic drop? And said, ‘Fuck it, I’m out!'”
In the weeks that followed, Kyle Busch announced he’ll be moving to RCR, driving the No. 8 car in 2023. Richard Childress made it public with a press conference at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Before that conference, Busch was walking to the stage and had a thought. The moment was caught in the behind the scenes footage via ‘Race for the Championship’. “What if we just did a mic drop? And said, ‘Fuck it, I’m out!’ His son Brexton responded, “I heard that!”
Yet, Busch made it to the podium.
“I had to find a place where I knew I could go and win races immediately. I also needed a place where I could hit reset and be welcomed, just as I am,” Kyle Busch said in the announcement of him driving the No. 8.
Richard Childress mirrors his new driver to Dale Earnhardt, “We talked about championships and winning races. I looked at him in his eye and I seen that look in Dale Earnhardt Sr’s eye, that he’s hungry, we’re going to win. I think Kyle Busch has that modern day style of racing that Dale Earnhardt had.”
That announcement was put together in about 5 days, according to the behind the scenes coverage.
Busch said with a smile from ear to ear in front of JGR and RCR employees, “Too bad it’s still six weeks away before the end of this year.”