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Will Kyle Busch drive Toyotas for Joe Gibbs Racing next season?
That answer remains unknown as Busch and Gibbs team officials continue discussions about renewing Busch’s contract for 2023. One key player in the situation—Toyota Racing Development—is working diligently to keep the Gibbs-Busch partnership active.
“One driver has accounted for 36 percent of our total wins across all three series, and you know who that driver is,” TRD president David Wilson said Tuesday. “Any scenario that doesn’t have Kyle Busch retiring from Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota would be a monstrous disappointment for us and Coach Gibbs and the family.”
Busch, who has driven for Gibbs since 2008 and won Cup championships for Toyota in 2015 and 2019, has been open in recent weeks in criticizing the status of negotiations with Gibbs, implying that the relationship could be dissolved at the end of the season.
Wilson said the biggest problem in the situation is the decision by long-time Gibbs/Busch partner M&Ms/Mars, one of the sport’s most visible sponsors, to leave NASCAR at the end of the year.
“It caught us all by surprise,” Wilson said. “The reality is Joe Gibbs can’t afford to pay Kyle Busch. That comes from corporate sponsorship. Every driver’s salary comes from whatever is on that race car on Sunday. We remain optimistic. We’re working on a number of different solutions harder than we ever have before.”
Wilson on Le Mans, Fourth Manufacturer
• Wilson commented on the Busch situation during a Tuesday press conference in which he also criticized NASCAR’s decision to allow Hendrick Motorsports extra testing time for its Chevrolets in connection with next season’s planned entry in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“I had zero notice,” Wilson said. “Candidly, it was a little disappointing as a stockholder and partner to NASCAR that neither Ford nor us was alerted. Within minutes I had dialogues with Steve Phelps and Steve O’Donnell and Jim France (NASCAR officials) and expressed our concerns and our displeasure. The good news is they have all responded and they hear us, and we have between ourselves and Ford given them some shared thoughts as of how this can be done in a manner that’s reasonably fair.”
• Wilson also said he favors NASCAR’s aggressive pursuit of a new car manufacturer to join Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet and emphasized that Toyota has been involved in discussions with potential newcomers. “We’re trying to give them some lessons learned,” he said. “We’re not trying to sell them. Our principal goal is to educate them as to what is the role of a manufacturer in NASCAR.”