Ricky Stenhouse Proud of Sheldon Haudenschild, SJMR Team
May 18, 2022
Toyota Racing Development president and general manager David Wilson envisions a world in just over a decade in which Brexton Busch is winning NASCAR Truck Series races for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
In a Tundra.
For that to happen, Kyle Busch in all likelihood need to be resigned by Joe Gibbs Racing and TRD before his contract expires at the end of the year. That hasn’t happened yet because primary sponsor M&Ms Mars is departing at the end of the season and a replacement package hasn’t been found.
"That caught us all by surprise," Wilson said during a media availability session on Tuesday. "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."
Busch was asked last month when he would like to know his plans for 2023 and beyond:
Was he getting antsy about it?
"I'm not getting antsy about it."
What happens if he can't come to an agreement with Gibbs?
"If it happens, it happens. If it don’t, it don’t. Goodbye."
That, predictably, set off a firestorm of headlines and discourse about where else the two-time Cup Series champion could realistically go. What other team-manufacturer combination could pay Busch a salary he feels is fair market value while also making a degree of business sense for Kyle Busch Motorsports?
There would be options, of course, but Gibbs and Toyota makes the most sense for all the reasons it has always made sense. Of his 60 Cup Series victories, Busch has won 56 with the manufacturer and its flagship organization. Even during a tenure that has been occasionally turbulent as it has been successful, Wilson has made retaining the 37 year old a priority.
"We’ve been very close to Kyle for years and years and years, and some of that relationship, to be candid, has been born through trials that we’ve gone through together and through controversy that we’ve gone through together," Wilson said. "We’ve had some really tough times with Kyle Busch, but we also are sitting on two championships and in celebrating recently our 1,500 starts across the three national series.
"I’ll pull this up, because I keep the stat handy all the time: One driver has accounted for 36% of our total wins across all three series, and you know who that driver is. It’s just amazing. So, any scenario that doesn’t have Kyle Busch retiring from Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota would be a monstrous disappointment — for us and for Coach Gibbs and the family."
Kyle Busch Motorsports is also a vital part of the Toyota driver development pipeline having fielded Super Late Models, ARCA Cars and Trucks for drivers the manufacturer has placed high hopes upon. Wilson expects Brexton Busch to become one of those drivers as well.
He also believes the elder Busch prioritizes Toyota too, for a deal that makes sense for all parties.
"Put yourself in his shoes," Wilson said. "He’s on an out year of his contract. This is so rare, because, of course, what the team, what we try and do is get well ahead of this, particularly with a tier-one driver like Kyle Busch. The circumstances, unfortunately, have made that challenging. So you know, we’re working on it. This is a conversation I have with Joe every week, and I’m optimistic.
"I know, and Kyle wants … you know, he doesn’t want to go anywhere else. He has been very candid. You know, he can’t wait for the day that his little boy, Brexton, races a Toyota Tundra out of the Kyle Busch Motorsports stable. He has that in his sights. And that’s not going to be for another 10-plus years, which means that we’ve got to make sure that we’re still together long after Kyle’s out of the driver’s seat full time."
For now, Gibbs has to find sponsorship to pay for it. From there, Busch has to agree on a salary and Wilson will be involved from a manufacturer standpoint from a Kyle Busch Motorsports standpoint.
"If nothing else, I can’t envision any other scenario. Any other scenario is just unacceptable," Wilson said. "The last I’ll add is just the point of obvious — it takes both of us to get there, right? It takes Toyota, Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch to get there. So, we can’t control everything, and I’ll leave it at that."