12 years ago, Richard Childress minced the words “hold my watch” as he went after Kyle Busch at the Kansas Speedway following a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. Now, that watch was part of a signing bonus to lure Busch over to Richard Childress Racing.
Last Fall, Childress made one of the biggest signings of Richard Childress Racing history by signing one of NASCAR’s most decorated drivers in the 21st century.
RCR had successfully landed Busch to drive one of their cars for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season. Busch, 37, and Joey Logano, are the only active drivers in the garage to have won multiple Cup Series championships.
“The addition of Kyle Busch to the Richard Childress Racing lineup is significant, not only for our organization, but for the sport as a whole,” said Richard Childress, Chairman and CEO of Richard Childress Racing on the day of the signing. “Kyle is a proven contender at the highest levels of the sport, and I believe that his experience and dedication to motorsports will elevate our race program across the board. I’ve always admired Kyle’s driving style and his ability to win and race for championships ever since he entered the sport. Who wouldn’t want a proven NASCAR Cup Series Champion driving their car?”
Busch’s impact is already paying dividends. He finished second in the Busch Light Clash. He passed Brad Keselowski for the lead with five laps remaining in regulation of last Sunday’s Daytona 500. If the race doesn’t have an overtime finish, Busch wins.
A week later, in Fontana, in just the second points paying race while driving the No. 8 Chevrolet for RCR, Busch is victorious.
“Yeah, coulda-shoulda-woulda, right, last week,” Busch said after celebrating his 61st career Cup Series win. “But no, I think it’s just phenomenal. I can’t thank Richard and Judy enough. I can’t thank Austin for calling me and getting me talking and getting me this opportunity to be able to come over here to RCR and be a part of Chevrolet and be able to race this Lucas Oil Camaro today, to be able to put it up front like that, man.
“There’s nothing more rewarding than being able to go to Victory Lane.”
Still, this is truthfully ahead of the curve. Busch honestly didn’t see this amount of success coming so quickly.
“Truthfully, no,” he said if he thought he’d challenge for this so soon. “I felt like there was going to be a little bit of a learning experience, a little bit of a growth pattern.
Busch also says while doing so, win No. 61 ranks as high as the previous 60 because of the fact that he can still do it he says.
“I never doubted myself, but sometimes you do,” he continued. “You kind of get down on it, you wonder what’s going on and what’s happening and you put yourself in a different situation and you’re able to come out here and reward your guys. It’s not about me always winning but it’s about the guys. I’ve been with a lot of great people that have given me a lot of great opportunities in my career, so it’s awesome to be able to reward them.
“I’m going to enjoy it for sure, and hopefully there’s many more left to go.”
How many more is on the table?
Sky could be the limit here.
2022 was the most wins (4) in a single season for RCR since Kevin Harvick won 4 times for them in 2013. It’s a long way from being winless in 2021 and having 1 win in 2020. In fact, from 2014 through 2021, they were winless in 6 of those 8 seasons. They had 1 win in the other 2 years each. This time, they had 4 trips to victory lane and 3 of the 4 were at iconic tracks in Indianapolis, Daytona and Talladega.
While all 4 wins were on “wild card” type tracks, with a pair of road course wins and two on superspeedways, it still is signaling that RCR is trending up.
So what about RCR attracts Busch to them when Reddick wanted to leave for a brighter future?
“RCR has an impressive history in NASCAR and I’m honored that Richard is putting his trust in me to come in and continue to build on that legacy,” said Busch. “Growing up in a family of passionate racers myself, I feel like the culture that the Childress family has built within their organization will be an ideal fit for me. As I begin the next chapter of my career, I’m looking forward to driving for RCR and working with everyone there to add more wins and championships to both of our resumes.”
This return to Chevrolet was his 5th win in 61 races as a member of the bowite family. This win on Sunday is also the spot to where he won his first career victory at and did so with Hendrick Motorsports. He won his next three races at Fontana with Joe Gibbs Racing. Now, his 5th win comes with his 3rd different team that he’s driven for.
Fontana produced not only Busch’s first win, but also his 200th in NASCAR and now his first with RCR.
Childress has seen more drivers leave him than come. Kevin Harvick left for SHR. Reddick leaves for 23XI Racing. Childress had to go the route of hire pay drivers or his grandson. To land someone like Busch is a massive win.
Busch expects to race for at least another decade and while Reddick is much younger and has a longer road ahead, this feels like a big splash for RCR as they’re entering an upward trend again. While they have no championships since 1994, you just get the feeling that Busch can bring them one back before his days are over.
“When I first crossed the finish line, I thought about Brexton and Samantha and Lennix all being at home and not being here and how mad they’re going to be at me for winning without them here. Then I thought about Richard and Judy and the chance that they’ve taken on putting me in their race car and letting me go out there and drive,” he says/
“It’s just been super, super rewarding so far each week, even though we haven’t won, to just be a part of the conversation and be in the mix.
“I hope that we’re able to repay them a lot over this year and the next few years to come before I decide it’s all said and done.
“But just great conversation with him. He was like, man, this is the first of many, and I think one of the other things he said was — he showed me his hat, his Chevy hat that he has in Victory Lane each year. Whenever they win races they always put the track and the driver signature of where the wins were. Hopefully we get to fill that thing up. It’s always on the inside, so hopefully we get to fill that thing up.”