SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Kyle Busch acknowledged Saturday (July 30) that “concessions” would have to be made by him in his contract negotiations, including driving for “under my market value” for whichever team employs him in 2023.
During a media session Saturday (July 30) in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage, called the process of determining his NASCAR future a “mess” and said he’s had “a lot of sleepless nights,” but that his goal was to remain with Joe Gibbs Racing.
“I don’t think money has ever been the objective or ever been the issue,” Busch said. “Obviously, I know where the sports landscape is, I know what’s happening. The talk from my side was that I know there needs to be concessions made to race under my market value. I’ve accepted that and have told everybody that and just trying to see where all that lies.”
Busch said he feels “no more or less” confident this week about the possibility of staying with JGR, the team he’s raced for since 2008. Asked whether he had spoken to any new teams last weekend at Pocono Raceway, Busch said “Every week we’re talking with somebody.”
There’s been increasing speculation that Busch could land at Stewart-Haas Racing.
The four-car team is scheduled to lose one of its drivers at the end of the year when Aric Almirola retires.
Kevin Harvick would embrace being teammates with Busch.
“He could rebuild a whole organization just based off his pure talent,” Harvick said. “I can tell you having a teammate like Kyle makes my car run faster. … I’m 100% open to having Kyle as a teammate.”
However, Harvick couched his comments by adding, “I have not heard one thing about it from my organization.”
Busch is the only active Cup driver with multiple championships. He has more than 200 wins across all three of NASCAR’s national series.
But Busch said he’s not asking for “the sky” in terms of salary.
“I’m willing to take concessions, I feel like the market is different than what it was years ago and willing to race for under my market value,” Busch said. “Whatever that comes to be, obviously it’s a negotiation.”
When asked if he’d be willing to sign a one-year deal for 2023, Busch said “anything’s on the table.”
“We’re talking (2023) options, we’re talking (2024) options,” Busch continued. “We’re talking long term, everybody and everything. The white board is quite full.”
Busch was asked if he was surprised that as a two-time champion he was surprised to be in his situation.
“I hate to make comparisons, but somebody told me this a week or so ago, it’d be like Dale Earnhardt in 1998, three or four years after winning his last championship, being on the free market agency and not having a ride,” Busch said. “You know what I mean? Like, that just sounds crazy. So I don’t know what to do to fix that.”
Busch also compared his situation to what an athlete like Michael Jordan or LeBron James would experience in the NBA, saying they wouldn’t be let go by a team because it lost one sponsor and “we can’t afford you.”
The only reason Busch is in his current situation is because long-time sponsor Mars, Inc. is exiting the sport after the season.
“You have to have some sponsorship on that car and unfortunately right now there’s just not that unicorn, there’s not that big, $20 million number,” Busch said. “I’d like to be able to piece it together, but haven’t heard anything about that either.”
One piece of the puzzle about Busch’s future is where his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team fits into it.
He was asked whether Kyle Busch Motorsports gives him bargaining power.
“I would like to think that it does, but it can also be a burden and a little bit of a headache, where teams you talk to they don’t want carry the burden of that, they don’t want anything to do with it,” Busch said. “There’s 50 families over there that are important to me that we keep that going as best as I possibly can.
“Obviously, I have to look out for myself and my family’s future, but also all of them.”
Busch repeated multiple times his “first goal” is to stay with JGR.
“But if the musical chairs music stops and I’m still standing and I don’t have a seat, I’m screwed,” Busch said. “I have to make sure I continue to talk and evaluate each place and each situation to find something.”
About the author
Daniel McFadin is a 7-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He's currently a freelancer and lead reporter and editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR show "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" on YouTube and in podcast form.
You can email him at email@example.com.
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