Could Kyle Busch really not be back with JGR in 2023, why contracts were a discussion at Loudon and why JGR was in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation on Sunday

Tyler Reddick and 23XI Racing announced last week that they came to an agreement on a new deal for the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season. A few days after, Ty Dillon announced that he’ll depart Petty GMS Racing after just 1 season.

Rumors were swirling that Dillon could replace Reddick as soon as 2023 in the No. 8 Chevrolet. It makes sense, right? Why not have both Dillon brothers under one roof finally in Cup driving for their grandpa Richard Childress.

However, RCR and Reddick don’t appear to be severing ties one year early and 23XI Racing doesn’t have a way to really buy Reddick out earlier and why would they? They only have 2 chartered cars and have both Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch under contract for 2023. After buying 2 charters in 2 years, I don’t see them buying a 3rd this late in the game and then ponying up to buy Reddick out.

One theory was that Toyota could help and place Reddick in Kyle Busch’s ride for 2023. However, that wouldn’t likely work because Busch’s ride doesn’t have a sponsor which is why this deal isn’t done yet for him. Reddick doesn’t have a lot of money to bring so Toyota would have to buy Reddick out and buy a seat at JGR for him if that works.

I don’t see that happening either.

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So, Reddick likely stays at RCR and Dillon could be housed somewhere for a year before replacing him. I keep hearing Noah Gragson is the favorite to replace him in the No. 42 Chevrolet at Petty GMS Racing.

BRISTOL, TENNESSEE – APRIL 17: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Mars Crunchy Cookie Toyota, takes the checkered flag to win the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2022 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)

Which is why this goes back to Busch. This is taking longer than expected, but do you really expect a 60 race winner in Cup with being the only driver to win multiple titles in NASCAR’s premiere series to walk?

Busch admitted in Loudon that he has talked to other teams but until someone else is announced in the 18 seat, he’s operating like the ride is him.

“Yeah, I am in a way,” team owner Joe Gibbs said on if he’s surprised it’s to the point to where Busch is having to talk to other teams. “It’s been hard. We’re working really hard to try and get things done, and it is hard, though. You’ve got to put a lot in place to make things work out, and we’re working as hard as we can. We’re going after it, a number of different directions. So yeah, I’m surprised at this point that we haven’t been able to get that finished.”

The only other spot Busch could go and be in a competitive ride would be at Stewart-Haas Racing but is that really his preferred option?

Team Penske has all 3 drivers signed. Hendrick Motorsports has all 4 signed. I don’t see Busch leaving for anyone else other than SHR if he wants to remain competitive.

Plus, Aric Almirola is opening the door back up to returning for maybe one more year there now too and didn’t dispel those rumors in Loudon either.

So stay tuned here. Busch doesn’t want to take a pay cut and shouldn’t. But driver salaries have dropped over the years and have been replaced with needing to bring money. Without a sponsor in place willing to pay millions like Mars was, the only way Busch gets a raise is if Toyota/JGR can find a sponsor that allows them to do that.

Since we’re nearing late July, it’s increasingly harder and harder to do so which means if Toyota wants to keep Busch, they need to pony up a lot of money out of pocket or Busch needs to take a paycut. That’s a tough ask.


LOUDON, NEW HAMPSHIRE – JULY 17: Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #19 Interstate Batteries Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series Ambetter 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 17, 2022 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Tim Nwachukwu/Getty Images)

JGR’s Sunday Dilemma

With Christopher Bell winning Sunday in Loudon, he became the 14th different winner of the season. As a result, a winless Martin Truex Jr. who led the most laps in the race, started on the pole and swept both stages, falls to the playoff cutline. A bad pit call and fourth place finish puts Truex 68 points up on Kevin Harvick for the final spot to the postseason.

But, with 3 wildcard tracks left among the 6 races remaining in the regular season, there’s panic setting into the 19 camp. They’re likely going to be forced to win at some point and he’s not done so in the last 28 races.

“Yeah, I think with Martin, I really felt for him,” Gibbs said. “To have a car like that and with everything that worked out the way it did, yeah, I think for us, we’ve had kind of a really up-and-down year. Everybody kind of knows we’ve been off some for sure. Road racing has given us fits. So it’s hard.

“New car, everything that’s taken place, you just keep working hard. We’ve got great people. The Lord has blessed us with great people, and we just keep working hard. So hopefully we’re getting a handle on things, and hopefully able to show up.

“I’m very nervous about it. I think all of us. I don’t think any of us would have dreamed when the year started we would have 15 winners at this point. Yeah, that’s why we were pulling so hard for him to get it, and then of course Christopher was in pretty much the same boat. Thank goodness Christopher was able to get it done, but we’ve got to give Martin everything we can give him because we need that car. We need it in the playoffs, that’s for sure.”

JGR had all 4 cars in the playoffs last year as Truex has never missed the postseason as a driver for Toyota.

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