No one saw this coming. At this point a year ago, it wasn’t even on anyone’s radar that Kyle Busch would be entering his final season in 2022 with Joe Gibbs Racing. But, after a year that can be described conservatively as tumultuous, the two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is ready to take the next step in his career.
Busch is leaving Joe Gibbs Racing, where he spent 15 full seasons, to drive a Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. That was announced this past September. Now that the season came to a close last month and his locker cleaned out from one organization, he’s hopeful his new journey can be compared closely to that of a couple of future NFL Hall of Famers who also left a successful organization to find success at their next stop along the way.
“It’s obviously been a challenging… not just this year, but the last little while… so it’s kind of maybe a blessing in disguise,” said Busch, who explored various options for 2023 after his sponsor, M&M’s, declined to return to the No. 18 JGR Toyota after this year. “Honestly, it just might be time for a fresh start—something new and something different.
“I’m kind of looking at it as the Tom Brady/Peyton Manning aspect, where they left great teams, great organizations where they won championships, and they went on to win championships somewhere else.”
Manning spent the first 14 years with the Indianapolis Colts to where he won the 2007 Super Bowl and made it to a second in 2010. He’d join the Denver Broncos in 2012 and would win a title in his final year with the organization. Brady spent the first 20 years of his career with the New England Patriots to where he won six Super Bowl’s. In his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2020, he won another.
Can Busch win a third career championship and do so with his next destination?
He’s hopeful. The thing is, RCR hasn’t won a title since 1994. However, they also had their best statistical season in years in 2022 coming off of a four win campaign including three from this very ride that Busch is taking over. With this Next Gen being in the second year of existence next season, the gap between the top teams and the bottom is still surely going to be diminished.
It helps a midfield team like RCR has been become a legitimate championship contender and having a championship level talent like Busch is, could only help.
Busch arrived at his Champion’s Week question-and-answer session at the Music City Center wearing the championship rings he won in 2015 and 2019, one on each hand.
“If you’ve got it, you might as well wear it,” Busch said. “You’re not going to wear it getting into a race car, so you might as well wear it at the functions where you can show people what they’re going after…
“Again, I’m going to go back to the Brady/Manning theory where, yes, I’ve done it before at one place. I want to do it again somewhere else.”