INDIANAPOLIS — Kyle Busch comes to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend as the only multi time NASCAR Cup Series champion strolling through the garage. However, the 2-time champion is also still a free agent and the calendar is set to turn to the 8th month of the year in 2 days.
That’s caused a lot of sleepless nights for Busch. After all, he’s human. He’s a husband. He’s a father of two now. He has a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team and a bunch of employees looking to him for a job. They have mouths to feed.
Busch feels the pressure.
“A lot of sleepless nights,” he says of this process.
That’s certainly affects his on track performance. He’s not had a top 10 finish since a stretch of three straight top 3 results between Kansas and Gateway. In fact, he’s had just 1 top 20 result in his last 6 tries.
It’s certainly carrying a burden on his shoulders. What makes this troublesome for him is that he’s willing to take a paycut to drive still.
“I’ve already admitted that I’m willing to take concessions,” Busch said of his contract negotiations. “I feel like the market is different than what it was years ago and willing to raise for under my market value. So whenever that comes to be it’s obviously a negotiation and then figuring out where I go and what the long term play is what the short term play is, and, you know, hopefully not being able to go through this again.”
He says everything is on the table right now. He’s talking 2023 options, 2024 options. His whiteboard is full. Hell he’s even talking to other teams
“I mean, anything’s on the table,” he says.
He’s heard the things being said about silly season and to where he’s going to end up. They don’t upset him. They in fact give him ideas to reach out to teams that he’s being linked to that he’s hasn’t yet discussed.
“Yeah, no, you definitely get a kick out of it,” he says. “It’s kind of funny because there’s actually some ideas thrown that I haven’t thought of. You’re like, oh, I might want to explore that one. But obviously it’s just it’s a mess right now. Trying to sort through it all is that the best I can and really, it’s there’s a lot of factors that go into this and really, I don’t I don’t want to be going through.”
Busch maintains that his first goal is to still remain at JGR and with Toyota. That hasn’t changed throughout this entire process.
“But that unicorn hasn’t fallen out of the sky or 20 million bucks or whatever it is, and I don’t think it needs to be that number,” he says. “Because obviously there’s a there’s a number in that that then pays a driver and I’ve already said that I’m willing to take concessions and race for under my market value and go forward and being able to stay in the seat that I’ve made home for the last 15 years.”
Busch says this sport has evolved to where you need to have sponsors to continue on.
“It’s not it’s it’s not as simple as being a basketball player and being a Michael Jordan or LeBron James or something like that,” he says. “And being a really good player and the team losing a sponsor and then saying, Okay, Michael, LeBron, you guys, we got to let you go. We can’t afford you know what I mean? So again, you have to have some sponsorship on the car and unfortunately, right now, there’s just not, there’s not that unicorn, there’s not that big $20 million number out there. So we’re, I’d like to be able to piece it together but haven’t heard much on that yet.
“Yeah, I mean, I hate to make comparisons but somebody told me this a week or so ago. It’d be like Dale Earnhardt in 1998, three or four years after winning his last championship being on the free market agency and not having a ride. You know what I mean? Like that just sounds crazy. So I don’t know what to do.”