If team owner Joe Gibbs can’t retain driver Kyle Busch beyond this season, he’ll need to answer to his manufacturer.
The head of Toyota Racing Development left no doubt about his company’s preference when asked Tuesday about the lingering contract uncertainty regarding Busch, whose contract with Joe Gibbs Racing expires at the end of the season.
“One driver has accounted for 36% of our total wins across all three series, and you know who that driver is,” TRD president David Wilson said, per Yahoo! Sports’ Mike Hembree. “Any scenario that doesn’t have Kyle Busch retiring from Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota would be a monstrous disappointment for us and coach Gibbs and the family.”
Wilson bluntly laid out the financial situation, which is that “Gibbs can’t afford to pay Kyle Busch” without sizable corporate sponsorship. Busch’s longtime sponsor M&M’s is leaving the sport at the end of the season.
Busch has been vocally frustrated by his lack of a deal for 2023 and beyond, and Wilson has been as critical of the way Busch has expressed himself as he was with JGR this week. But it’s evident Toyota won’t be happy if Busch isn’t with the team moving forward.
Although Gibbs owns the team and has his name on the masthead, he doesn’t call all the shots. Toyota and, in this case, Busch have the upper hand. Very soon, Gibbs will want to move his grandson Ty Gibbs into one of his NASCAR Cup Series cars, but if he thinks he can do so at the Busch’s expense, he’s clearly overplayed his hand.