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Kyle Busch, introduced by Richard Childress Racing, will drive the number 8 car in 2023

Kyle Busch, introduced by Richard Childress Racing, will drive the number 8 car in 2023

CHARLOTTE, NC — Kyle Busch will move to Richard Childress Racing next season, ending a 15-year career with Joe Gibbs Racing as the team could not agree with NASCAR’s only active multiple-time Cup champion.

Busch will drive the No. 8 Chevrolet for Childress in an announcement made Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. He wore the two cup championships he won at Gibbs on his middle fingers.

“I’m taking my talents to Welcome, North Carolina, to drive the number 8 car from 2023,” Busch said of the move to the team based about an hour north of Charlotte.

Tyler Reddick, who is currently competing for the Cup Championship in the No. 8 Chevrolet, remains under contract with RCR and will drive for the team next season. Reddick told Childress in July that he was transferring to 23XI Racing in 2024.

Richard Childress said he informed Reddick an hour before Busch’s announcement that he would be out of the number 8 next season. Childress said he would be getting a third charter for Reddick’s car, but gave no other details other than that Reddick’s current crew chief will be linked to Busch next season.

When Childress joined Busch at the announcement, the Hall of Fame team owner offered Busch’s 7-year-old son, Brexton, a contract option to ride for RCR one day. But before that, Childress handed Busch his ‘signing bonus’, a watch in a box.

Childress wrestled Busch in 2011 after a Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway. The car owner took off his watch and handed it to someone with the words “Hold my watch” for the altercation. Childress was then fined $150,000 by NASCAR.

Childress and Busch, now 37 years old, made up for it a long time ago, making RCR a landing place for Busch during his excruciatingly long off-desk stint. JGR heard that his longtime partner Mars Wrigley would be leaving the sport in late 2022 and Gibbs was looking for a sponsor with deep pockets to keep Busch in the No. 18 Toyota.

Busch even said he would drive below his market value to close a deal.

But as the year progressed and no progress was made on Busch’s 2023 plans, he had to look elsewhere for both his own Cup seat and a landing spot for Kyle Busch Motorsports, his Truck Series team. KBM will now be a Chevrolet organization, but Busch said all the details about KBM and how many trucks it will run next year are still being decided.

“Kyle is an important part of our history and our success here at Joe Gibbs Racing. We are grateful for all of his contributions to our organization over the years,” said Joe Gibbs in a statement. has already achieved, it is truly remarkable, and we know that one day we will celebrate his initiation into the Hall of Fame.”

The move to RCR and rival Chevrolet is a huge blow to Toyota, which has been with Busch since joining JGR and giving him all but four of his 60 Cup wins in his career. Busch is also the winning driver in the lower Xfinity Series and Truck Series, and his KBM truck team is a key part of Toyota’s dominance in that series.

But Toyota couldn’t do anything to find Busch a place in its small fleet — combining JGR and 23XI for a Cup Series-low six full-time entries — and Busch was able to move to Chevrolet. The manufacturer praised the driver it considers a future Hall of Famer for all that “one of the greatest drivers in NASCAR history” has accomplished for Toyota.

“We are disappointed and saddened that his future will not stay with Team Toyota,” the manufacturer said in a statement. “Kyle has been an ambassador for Toyota since joining the program in 2008. He has achieved some of the most prestigious milestones possible for the Toyota brand. He will undoubtedly hold the record for most wins in a Toyota in all three Championship Series for decades to come.

“But more than that, Kyle has been a friend, part of our family and has played a key role in the development of many of our drivers through his Kyle Busch Motorsports ownership. We wish nothing but the best for Kyle and his entire family as he enters the next chapter of his Hall of Fame career and we are grateful to have been able to ride.”

Childress said the atmosphere at his shop in Welcome has been electric since the rumors that Busch might move to the organization. He also said that when he looks into Busch’s eyes, he sees the same fiery look of competition he once saw in the late Dale Earnhardt.

Earnhardt won six of his seven cup championships for Childress. But RCR hasn’t won a title since Earnhardt’s last championship in 1994. Reddick, a winner of two races this season, is currently 11th in the playoff standings. Childress grandson Austin Dillon won the regular season final to secure the final playoff spot, sitting 14th in the standings as the Cup Series enters Saturday night’s elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

It was Dillon, Childress said, who encouraged his grandfather to talk to Busch after Reddick overpowered RCR with his plans to leave in 2024. Busch enters Bristol in 13th place in the standings. The move to RCR sees Busch return to Chevrolet, the manufacturer he started with when he signed a development driver contract with Hendrick Motorsports as a teenager. He made his Cup debut as a 19-year-old for Hendrick, winning four races in three seasons with the No. 5 Chevrolet – the number currently used by champion Kyle Larson.

Busch was fired from Hendrick in late 2007 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. became available and Hendrick could no longer tolerate Busch’s volatile behavior. Gibbs gave Busch a longer belt — Gibbs won three Super Bowls with the Washington Commanders and also employed Hall of Fame driver Tony Stewart — and Busch thanked Gibbs on Tuesday for “be patient with me.”

“You guys took a chance on a kid 15 years ago to let me drive a race car, and we got down to business,” Busch said of Gibbs, who “allowed me most days to be a kid and out and about. grow into a man.”