The NASCAR Xfinity Series’ winningest driver will have a different schedule come 2016. Kyle Busch will return to NASCAR’s second-tier division next year, but running approximately half the races.
Losing Monster Energy, which has been Busch’s primary sponsor since taking Kyle Busch Motorsports into the NXS in 2012 and continuing the partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2013, he is unsure of his plans for 2016. The energy drink company announced in early October that it will be partnering with Busch’s brother Kurt as his primary sponsor for 18 races.
“Those plans are being worked out right now. We’re going to try to continue to run in the Xfinity Series next year, yes,” Busch said in a teleconference on Tuesday. “It’s looking as though it’ll be somewhere around 15 or 18 races, and it will not be in the Monster Energy car. It’ll be something else, so we’ll hope to be able to come up with all of that here soon so we can get the announcement out and to everybody”
However, as discussed in a NASCAR Fan Council poll sent by an anonymous member to USA Today’s Jeff Gluck, NASCAR is exploring the option of banning full-time Sprint Cup drivers from competing in the NXS. If that becomes the case, it might force JGR to scale back to two cars unless a driver with sponsorship joins the team. In 2015, the team competed with rookie Daniel Suarez full-time, with seven drivers in the No. 20 car and three in the No. 54 car.
As of now, the plan for JGR is to run Suarez and Erik Jones full-time in the NXS for 2016.
Busch has run at least 19 NXS races each season since he started running full-time with Hendrick Motorsports in 2004 until this season. He ran a career-low 15 NXS events, but won six races in the No. 54 car this year after sitting out until Michigan in June due to suffering multiple leg injuries in a crash during the division’s season-opener at Daytona. He did not comment on whether or not the injury played a role the decreased schedule.