Kyle Busch would take less money to stay at Gibbs; mulls racing outside NASCAR

Kyle Busch money
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INDIANAPOLIS – Wrestling with “a lot of sleepless nights” about his racing future, Kyle Busch said he is open to a host of options, including taking less money or a one-year deal to remain with Joe Gibbs Racing and possibly leaving NASCAR to race other series.

Addressing reporters before NASCAR Cup Series qualifying Saturday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Busch said he was willing to make concessions “and to race for under my market value” to re-sign with JGR’s No. 18 Toyota.

“I don’t think money has ever been the objective or the issue,” Busch said. “Obviously, I know where the sport’s landscape is. I know what’s happening. And I’ve accepted (taking a smaller salary). And have told everybody that. I’m trying to see where all that lies.”

KYLE BUSCH CONTRACT SAGA: How Busch, Gibbs arrived at this point

Busch confirmed that he still remains in weekly talks with other teams but wouldn’t specify which. He and Gibbs haven’t set a deadline for whether he’d return to the team.

In a separate group interview Saturday morning, Kevin Harvick said he would be “100 percent open” to having Busch as a teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing. SHR has yet to confirm a driver next season for the No. 10 Ford, which was expected to be vacated with Aric Almirola‘s retirement.

Busch said he would be willing to take a one-year “bridge” deal to stay with JGR and then sign a long-term extension next year if a sponsor was found. Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson had suggested a bridge deal for Busch was an option in a recent interview with NBC Sports’ Dustin Long.

“Yeah, anything’s on the table,” Busch said Saturday. “We’re talking ’23 options; we’re talking ’24 options. We’re talking long term. Everybody, everything. The white board is quite full.”

That includes considering racing outside NASCAR next year.

“Somebody said, ‘Maybe you should go and do the (Kyle) Larson tour,’ ”  Busch said. “Go run Late Models, dirt cars, IMSA, Indy. And it’s like, ‘Oh my God.’ That just seems to add a new element to everything. And that’s probably the farthest down on my list that I’d entertain but certainly wouldn’t leave it out.”

Busch had a deal arranged to race the 2017 Indy 500 that was quashed by team owner Joe Gibbs. In addition to wanting to race the Indy 500, Busch also has said he wants to race the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Busch’s most recent deal with JGR was announced Feb. 28, 2019 and also included an extension with Mars Inc., which is leaving after this season.

Other highlights from Busch’s 11-minute session with reporters that marked his most expansive comments this season about his contract situation:

–On whether he feels wanted by Joe Gibbs Racing:

“It’s tough, right? You’ve got to have sponsorship in this sport to be able to go forward. It’s not as simple as being a basketball player and being a Michael Jordan or a LeBron James or something like that and being a really good player and the team losing a sponsor and then saying, ‘OK, Michael and LeBron, we have to let you go because we can’t afford you.’

“Again you have to have some sponsorship on this car. Unfortunately, there’s not that unicorn. There’s not that big 20 million dollar number out there. I’d like to be able to piece it together, but I haven’t heard much on that yet, either.”

–On whether Kyle Busch Motorsports being Toyota’s flagship team in the truck series gives him leverage:

“I’d like to think that it does. But also could be a burden and a little bit of a headache, where some other teams you talk to, they don’t want to carry the burden of that. They don’t want to have anything to do with it. That’s a frustration, too.

“Like I said last week, I’ll say it again, there are 50 families over there that are important to me that we keep that thing going as best that we possibly can. Obviously, I have to look out for myself and my family’s future but also all of them.”

–On if he’s discussed his future with crew chief Ben Beshore and other No. 18 team members:

“We’ve just been putting our heads down in the books to try to keep working and keep going at what we know we’re good at it. We have not spoken about the uncertainties.”

–On the rumors surrounding his future:

“You definitely get a kick out of it. It’s kind of funny because there are actually some ideas thrown that I haven’t thought of, so you’re like, ‘Oh, I might want to explore that one.’ Obviously, it’s a mess right now. Just trying to sort through it all the best I can.

“There’s a lot of factors that go into this, and I really don’t want to be going through this. My first option, my first goal, my first step is to be with Joe Gibbs Racing and stay at Toyota and have nothing change. But that unicorn hasn’t fallen out of the sky for 20 million bucks or whatever it is, and I don’t think it needs to be that number. Because obviously there’s a number in that that pays a driver, and I’ve already said I’m willing to take concessions and race for under my market value and go forward in being able to stay in the seat that I’ve made home for the last 15 years.”

–On if he’s gone back and forth on staying with Gibbs:

“I don’t think it’s changed back and forth. If you read the last 3-4 weeks of quotes from me, I’ve said and will continue to say my first goal is to stay at Joe Gibbs Racing. If the musical chairs music stops, and I’m still standing and don’t have a seat, I’m screwed, so I have to make sure I continue to talk and evaluate each place, each situation to find something.”

–On being the only active multiple Cup series champion and yet unsigned for 2023:

“I hate to make comparisons, but somebody told me a week or so ago, it would be like Dale Earnhardt in 1998, three or four years after winning his last championship, being on the free market and not having a ride. That just sounds crazy. So I don’t know what to do, how to fix it. It’s the unicorn. The sponsorship you need to go forward. That’s just where it’s at. Hoping we can find something.”

–On the disqualification of his second-place finish last Sunday at Pocono Raceway:

“It’s excessive for what it was. I get the process of this car and making sure the example is out there, and they did the same thing with (the No. 6 Brad Keselowski team) and the 34 team (of Michael McDowell). I’m not sure what those instances were. I don’t know exactly how our process happened where that piece of tape got on there, but it was unfortunate in the end result. Minimal if anything. You go back and run that race tomorrow, and we run the same way (without the tape).”

NASCAR fines Daniel Suarez $50,000 for pit road incident


NASCAR fined Daniel Suarez $50,000 for running into the cars of Alex Bowman and teammate Ross Chastain on pit road after last weekend’s race at Circuit of the Americas.

Suarez was upset after a potential top-five finish was lost in an incident in overtime.

MORE: Appeals Panel rescinds 100-point penalty to Hendrick drivers 

Suarez restarted fifth in the second overtime restart but left the inside lane open. Alex Bowman, with Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe aligned behind, charged and got beside Suarez as they approached Turn 1.

As Bowman slowed to make the tight turn, he was hit from behind and that sent him into Suarez, who clipped the left rear of Martin Truex Jr.’s car. Truex spun in front of Suarez and blocked his path, allowing the rest of the field to drive by and costing Suarez a top-five finish. Suarez finished 27th.

Suarez spoke briefly with Bowman before having a discussion with Chastain.

“It’s uncharacteristic of Daniel,” Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “There’s no excuse for what happened.”

Appeals panel rescinds 100-point penalty to Hendrick drivers


Alex Bowman is back leading the points after the National Motorsports Appeals Panel rescinded the 100-point penalty to each Hendrick Motorsports driver and team Wednesday. The Appeals Panel also rescinded the 10-point playoff to each Hendrick driver and team.

The Appeals Panel found that Hendrick violated the rule by modifying the hood louvers on the cars of Bowman, William Byron, Kyle Larson and Josh Berry at Phoenix. The louvers were taken after practice that weekend.

The Appeals Panel kept the $100,000 fine and four-race suspension to each Hendrick crew chief: Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Blake Harris and Rudy Fugle. All four sat out the past two races, meaning they’ll miss this weekend’s race at Richmond and next weekend’s race on the dirt at Bristol before returning the following weekend at Martinsville.

The Appeals Panel did not give a reason for its decision.

Bowman had been 16th in the standings with the 100-point penalty. He now has a 15-point lead on Ross Chastain after getting all those points back.

Byron goes from 22nd to third after getting his points back. He’s 29 points behind Bowman, 14 points behind Chastain and five points ahead of Kyle Busch. Byron also gets his 10 playoff points back for his wins at Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Larson goes from 27th to ninth with getting his points back.

“We are grateful to the National Motorsports Appeals Panel for their time and attention,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement. “Today’s outcome reflects the facts, and we’re pleased the panel did the right thing by overturning the points penalty. It validated our concerns regarding unclear communication and other issues we raised. We look forward to focusing on the rest of our season, beginning with this weekend’s race at Richmond (Raceway).”

NASCAR stated its displeasure with part of the penalty being rescinded.

“We are pleased that the National Motorsports Appeals Panel agreed that Hendrick Motorsports violated the rule book. However, we are disappointed that the entirety of the penalty was not upheld. A points penalty is a strong deterrent that is necessary to govern the garage following rule book violations, and we believe that it was an important part of the penalty in this case and moving forward. We will continue to inspect and officiate the NASCAR garage at the highest level of scrutiny to ensure a fair and level playing field for our fans and the entire garage.”

The panelists on the appeal were former driver Bill Lester, Kelly Housby and Dixon Johnston.

Here is the updated points

1. Alex Bowman       226 points

2. Ross Chastain      211

3. William Byron       197

4. Kyle Busch           192

5. Joey Logano        186

6. Kevin Harvick       186

7. Christopher Bell   184

8. Ryan Blaney         177

9. Kyle Larson          170

10. Austin Cindric     166

11. Martin Truex Jr.   165

12. Brad Keselowski 162

13. Tyler Reddick       161

14. Denny Hamlin      161

15. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 159

16. Chris Buescher     157

17. Daniel Suárez        144

18. Corey LaJoie         139

19. Michael McDowell 125

20. Ty Gibbs                 118

21. Bubba Wallace      103

22. AJ Allmendinger    103

23. Erik Jones                99

24. Chase Briscoe         96

25. Todd Gilliland          95

26. Austin Dillon            93

27. Noah Gragson        86

28. Aric Almirola            70

29. Ryan Preece           69

30. Harrison Burton      66

Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway


The NASCAR Cup Series’ first short track points race of the season is scheduled Sunday at Richmond Raceway, a presence on the NASCAR schedule since 1953.

Tyler Reddick is coming off his first win of the season last Sunday at Circuit of the Americas. He gave Toyota its first victory of the year.

MORE: William Byron is No. 1 in NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

The Richmond race is the first of three consecutive events on short tracks. The series will race on the dirt surface at Bristol Motor Speedway April 9 and the Martinsville Speedway half-mile April 16.

A look at drivers to watch Sunday at Richmond:


Tyler Reddick

  • Points position: 13th
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (COTA)
  • Past at Richmond: No finish better than 11th in five career starts

Reddick showed the promise of what could be a strong season by dominating Sunday’s race at COTA. His victory boosted him five spots in points to 10th. Richmond, a track where he has never led a lap, will be a test.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best seasonal finish: 1st (Las Vegas 1, Phoenix 1)
  • Past at Richmond: Led 122 laps in April race last year

Byron had a top car in this race last season but was passed by Denny Hamlin for the win with five laps remaining. Byron finished third, his career-best run at Richmond.

Denny Hamlin

  • Points position: 14th
  • Best seasonal finish: 6th (Auto Club, Atlanta 1)
  • Past at Richmond: Four consecutive top-four runs, including a win

Hamlin can be counted on to challenge for the win every time the tour rolls into Richmond. He has won there in 2009, ’10, ’16 and ’22.


Daniel Suarez

  • Points position: 17th
  • Best seasonal finish: 4th (Auto Club)
  • Past at Richmond: Best career finish is 7th

After opening the season with top-10 runs at Daytona, Fontana and Las Vegas, Saurez has plummeted into the 20s in three consecutive races. Richmond will present another big challenge. Suarez has five consecutive finishes of 16th or worse there.

Ryan Preece

  • Points position: 29th
  • Best seasonal finish: 12th (Phoenix 1)
  • Past at Richmond: Top finish of 20th in five career starts

Preece’s first full-time season in the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 41 has started poorly. He has been sidelined by accidents in three races and was more upset than most after being parked by a multi-car crash Sunday at COTA.

Alex Bowman

  • Points position: 1st
  • Best seasonal finish: 3rd (Las Vegas 1, COTA)
  • Past at Richmond: Three top 10s, including a win, in past five races

Bowman seems poised to score his first victory of the season. He has been among the tour’s most consistent drivers to date, with five top-10 finishes in six races.




What takes place in a NASCAR appeal hearing? Here’s a look


Hendrick Motorsports is scheduled to have its appeal hearing at 10 a.m. ET Wednesday.

So what will happen in the appeal hearing? Here is a look at the process, based on the NASCAR Cup Rule Book.

NASCAR penalized Hendrick Motorsports for modifications to hood louvers. Those penalties were:

  • Docked Alex BowmanKyle Larson and William Byron 100 points and 10 playoff points each.
  • Suspended crew chiefs Cliff Daniels, Alan Gustafson, Rudy Fugle and Blake Harris four races each and fined each $100,000.
  • Penalized each of the four Hendrick teams 100 owner points and 10 playoff points.

Before the appeal hearing starts, both sides — in this case, Hendrick Motorsports and NASCAR — must file a written summary presenting their case before the hearing.

The summary must not be longer than two single-spaced pages. Any attachments or appendices either side intends to present during the hearing must be included. Such attachments or appendices may include, but are not limited to, video, written statements, diagrams, photographs and charts.

The summary is to be filed by 5 p.m. ET two days before the beginning of the hearing. The summary shall be confidential and not released to the public. The Cup Rule Book says that releasing the summary to the public “may result in a penalty.”

The appeal will be heard by three members. They will come from a pool of panelists. The Cup Rule Book lists 19 panelists. That group includes former drivers Mike Skinner, Lake Speed, Bill Lester, Shawna Robinson and Lyn St. James, along with others in various roles in motorsports.

The Cup Rule Book states that “in seating an Appeals Panel, the Administrator shall take into consideration the panelists’ availability, background, professional experience and knowledge.”

The Cup Rule Book states “the burden rests on NASCAR to show that it is more likely than not that a violation … has occurred, and that the Penalty Notice issued is within the guidelines of the NASCAR Rules.”

Both parties are allowed in the hearing room while each side presents evidence. NASCAR goes first.

After both sides finish, there is a break before an optional rebuttal period. NASCAR has the chance to go first, followed by those appealing.

Once that is complete, NASCAR is permitted one last opportunity to “argue, explain, or present rebuttal on the facts and violation” to the appeal panel since NASCAR carries the burden of proof.

The appeal panelists may ask questions to either group or any witnesses at any time during the hearing.

Decisions by the three-member National Motorsports Appeals Panel do not need to be unanimous.

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel can affirm the penalty or adjust it. The panel can rescind some or all of the penalties or increase any or all penalties.

When NASCAR penalized William Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for spinning Hamlin during a caution in last year’s playoff race at Texas, Hendrick Motorsports appealed. The National Motorsports Appeals Panel rescinded the 25-point penalty but increased his fine to $100,000. NASCAR amended its rule book after the panel’s decision.

NASCAR does not have the option to appeal the panel’s decision. Those who filed the appeal can further appeal the panel’s decision to the Final Appeal Officer. That decision can’t be appealed.

Kaulig Racing and Denny Hamlin each will go through this process when their appeals are heard. Kaulig Racing’s appeal is April 5 for modifications to a hood louver. Hamlin’s appeal is April 6 for intentionally wrecking Ross Chastain on the last lap of the Phoenix race.