Report: Kyle Busch going to Richard Childress Racing in 2023

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KANSAS CITY, Kans. — Two-time Cup champion Kyle Busch will leave Joe Gibbs Racing for Richard Childress Racing after this season, according to a report Saturday by The Athletic.

The report came shortly after Busch was asked by the media at Kansas Speedway if he would be going to RCR next season. Busch said: “I do not have any new news to share. If I did, I guarantee there would be some sort of big announcement. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been one of those yet. We’re still working on it behind the scenes trying to put it all together. It’s not done.”

A move to RCR would end Busch’s 15 years with Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch acknowledged Saturday that he was closer to resolving his future.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train,” he said. “It is sunshine, so that’s a positive thing and trying to keep the train on the tracks right now for a little bit longer.”

An announcement on Busch’s future is expected early next week.

Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s U.S. vice president of performance and motorsports, is in Laguna Seca for Sunday’s IndyCar finale and was asked if Busch will be a Chevy driver next season.

“When you’re involved in eight series around the world, there is a silly season on drivers, teams and teams switching manufacturers goes on all the time,” he told NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan and The Associated Press. “What we’re focused on right now is the championships for IndyCar, same thing for NASCAR. So what happens and where people land, it’ll work itself out.”

A pairing of Busch and Childress presents a unique tandem among former combatants. 

Upset with Busch’s actions toward his drivers in the Truck Series, Childress found Busch in the garage at Kansas in 2011, removed his watch and repeatedly punched Busch. NASCAR fined Childress $150,000 for instigating the altercation.

Busch said Saturday his relationship with Childress has improved, even joking about negotiations: “Who’s to say he hasn’t punched me again in any of these conversations?”

Busch went on to say Saturday: “Whenever you go into negotiations, it’s never fun, so you’re duking the whole time. I think you grow up and you work through things and you talk it over. Really it was fine the first time I sat down with him, and everything was okay. 

“The biggest thing about it was just having an opportunity to kind of put that behind us. It was no different than going on the Dale Jr. Download and talking about 2008 and crashing (Earnhardt) at Richmond. You get through it and you talk about it and life moves on.”

Busch has been headed on this path after a sponsor pulled out of negotiations with Joe Gibbs Racing earlier this year. The team needed a new sponsor after Mars, Inc. announced last year that it would not return to the team and the series. 

Joe Gibbs Racing was in talks with Oracle, a technology corporation based in Austin, Texas, to sponsor Busch’s No. 18 team, but that fell through when the technology market changed and Oracle began looking at cutting costs and issuing layoffs. 

Without a sponsor, it became more difficult for Gibbs to sign Busch. He talked with other teams. Those who emerged as the leaders were Kaulig Racing, RCR and 23XI Racing. 

Matt Kaulig, owner of Kaulig Racing, declined to answer questions from NBC Sports and Fox Sports last weekend at Darlington Raceway if he was out of the race for Busch. Kaulig only smiled and walked away. 

A key element with Busch is the status of Kyle Busch Motorsports, his Camping World Truck Series team, which won Friday’s truck race at Kansas with John Hunter Nemechek.

Asked Saturday if there is more clarity on that organization’s future, Busch said: “I’m definitely not comfortable with where that’s at yet. Trying to put all the right things in the right places simultaneously was the objective and the goal. It’s not going to happen that way, but we will certainly keep fighting for that to make sure that KBM is at the forefront and we have a place to go race trucks next year.”

Chevrolet’s Campbell acknowledged the benefit of a stronger NASCAR Truck program.

“We have a decent-sized Truck field,” Campbell said. “I think we need to bolster our Truck program. We’re strong in Cup. We’re strong in Xfinity. We have not been as strong in the Truck side.

“We’ve just got a couple of drivers that are going to vie for the championship, and we washed one of them out yesterday, so we’ll see where it goes.

Busch joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 after he was let go by Hendrick Motorsports to make way for Earnhardt.

Busch has scored 56 of his 60 career Cup wins with Joe Gibbs Racing. No driver has won as many Cup races since 2008. Busch gave Toyota its first Cup win at Atlanta in the fourth race of the 2008 season. 

He won Cup titles in 2015 and 2019 while at JGR. Busch is the only active series driver with multiple championships. 

Ty Gibbs is expected to replace Busch in the No. 18 Cup car next season at Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs, who is racing for the Xfinity championship this season, has been running Cup races in place of Kurt Busch since Busch has been out because of a head injury suffered in a crash at Pocono in July.

Tyler Reddick is under contract through next season at Richard Childress Racing before moving to 23XI Racing in 2024. 

Denny Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing, said Saturday that he didn’t think Reddick would join the team next season.

“I think Tyler would like to play out his contract at RCR and that’s what he’s always intended,” Hamlin said. “We’ve not planned for anything otherwise. Kurt’s going to drive the 45 as far as we understand and unless he says differently and if he does say differently, then we have a couple options that we’re looking at. But we never intended on getting Tyler before 2024.”

Said Reddick: “I’m just going to keep doing my job, the task at hand. That’s what we did today and got a pole, we were fast in practice in a lot of measures. So yeah, if if I was pretty bored during the week and didn’t have a lot going on, wasn’t spending a lot of time trying to prepare, it’d be easy to get distracted and give that some of your mind and some of your attention. Thankfully, I stay busy with my team.”

NASCAR weekend schedule for Talladega Superspeedway

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The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs roll into Talladega Superspeedway, a center of uncertainty, for the second race in the Round of 12 this weekend.

Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET, NBC) could place the first driver in the Round of 8. Any playoff driver who wins the race automatically advances to the next round.

Through the playoffs to date, playoff drivers are batting zero in the race-win category. Non-playoff drivers — Tyler Reddick, Chris Buescher, Bubba Wallace and Erik Jones — have scored wins in the first four playoff races.

Joey Logano leads the playoff points entering the race. Ross Chastain, who won at Talladega earlier this year, is second.

The four drivers below the cutline are Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Byron was above the line earlier this week but was penalized 25 points for spinning Denny Hamlin under caution last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. That move lifted Chase Briscoe above the cutline.

Playoff races also are scheduled for the Xfinity Series (Saturday, 4 p.m. ET, USA Network) and the Camping World Truck Series (Saturday, 12:30 p.m., FS1) at Talladega.

Here’s a look at the Talladega weekend schedule:

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Friday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday: Partly cloudy. High of 74.

Sunday: Intervals of clouds and sun. High of 75.

Friday, Sept. 30

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. — Truck Series
  • 10:30 a.m. – 7:30 p.m. — Xfinity Series
  • 2 – 7 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Short-track ace Sam Ard shares Xfinity record with Noah Gragson

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Former two-time Xfinity Series champion Sam Ard’s name returned to the forefront in the past week as Noah Gragson tied Ard’s series record for consecutive victories at four.

Although Ard has been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, his exploits generally aren’t well-known among many who follow the modern sport of stock car racing. He was on the Hall voting list for the 2023 class but was not elected.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Ard was a short-track master in the vein of stars like Jack Ingram, Harry Gant and Butch Lindley, drivers who could show up at virtually any half-mile track across the country and take home the trophy.

He won the NASCAR Late Model (now the Xfinity Series) championship in 1983 and 1984, scoring 18 wins across those two seasons. He put together four victories in a row late in the 1983 season, winning at South Boston, Virginia; Martinsville, Virginia; Rougemont, North Carolina and Charlotte.

Ard was so dominant in 1984 that he had wrapped up the seasonal championship with two races remaining. In 28 series starts that year, he had 24 top-five finishes and 26 top-10 runs. He won eight times.

In the next-to-last race of the 1984 season, at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, Ard suffered critical head injuries when his car slid in fluid from another vehicle and hit the track’s outside wall.

That crash effectively ended Ard’s career and impacted the rest of his life. Ard often talked of learning to walk again as part of his recovery. He said he would use a walker in a pile of sawdust in his backyard so that the landing would be softer when he fell.

Ard eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. In 2006, responding to Ard’s financial problems, drivers Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., among others, launched a drive to raise funds for his family.

Ard, a native of Scranton, S.C., died in April 2017. He was 78.

 

 

 

 

 

Drivers to watch in Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway

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The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs will reach a critical point Sunday in a 500-mile chase at treacherous Talladega Superspeedway.

The overriding factor in any race at Talladega, NASCAR’s biggest track, is the unknown. With cars running so fast and so close together, multi-car accidents are not only possible but expected, and it’s easy to become the innocent victim of someone else’s mistake.

MORE: NASCAR penalizes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

The tension is doubled for the 12 playoff drivers. A bad finish at Talladega could open the door for a probable playoff exit at the end of the round Oct. 9 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

The playoffs to date have seen four wins by non-playoff drivers, an unprecedented result. Tyler Reddick was the most recent to join that list with a win last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

A look at drivers to watch at Talladega:

FRONTRUNNERS

Denny Hamlin

  • Points position: 6th
  • Last three races: 10th at Texas, 9th at Bristol, 2nd at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 2 career wins

Although he hasn’t won, Hamlin has finished in the top 10 in all four playoff races. In the past six races at Talladega, he has four finishes of seventh or better. Now if he can just keep people from running into him…

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Last three races: 7th at Texas, 3rd at Bristol, 6th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: Best career finish is a second

Byron stands alone as the only playoff driver who has been able to avoid major crashes and trouble in the pits, and he has finished in the top 10 in all four playoff races. After Tuesday’s penalty for his incident with Denny Hamlin at Texas, he sits below the cutline entering Sunday’s race.

Brad Keselowski

  • Points position: 24th
  • Last three races: 8th at Texas, 13th at Bristol, 25th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 6 wins, the active leader

Even in trying times, Keselowski is a threat at Talladega, where he last won in April 2021 (his last Cup victory). He has led 268 laps there in the past 13 races.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 15th
  • Last three races: 36th at Texas, 34th at Bristol, 26th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win, in 2008

Is Busch going to steadily disappear into the mist as he rides out the final weeks of his final year with Joe Gibbs Racing? His best finish in the past four races is 26th. On the positive side this week, he’s the only driver to finish in the top 10 in this year’s three races at Daytona and Talladega.

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 8th
  • Last three races: 32nd at Texas, 2nd at Bristol, 11th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win, in 2019

Can Elliott rebound from a fiery finish and a 32nd-place run at Texas? Playoff points give him some comfort, but a second career win at Talladega would be greatly appreciated in the Hendrick camp.

Martin Truex Jr.

  • Points position: 17th
  • Last three races: 31st at Texas, 36th at Bristol, 5th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: Best career finish is 5th

Will one of the sport’s most enduring mysteries continue at Talladega? In 70 career starts at Daytona and Talladega, Truex, a former champion and a smooth driver, has zero wins. At Talladega, he has only three top-five finishes in 35 starts.

 

 

 

NBC will broadcast final six NASCAR Cup Series playoff races

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The final six races in the chase for the NASCAR Cup Series championship will be televised by NBC.

The races remaining on the schedule are at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2), the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16), Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 23), Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30) and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 6).

NBC’s broadcasting team will be on hand Sunday for what is typically a seasonal highlight — a 500-mile race at Talladega Superspeedway. The next week the playoffs move on to Charlotte for a cutoff race. The lowest four drivers in the playoff point standings will be eliminated from championship competition.

The Round of 8 is scheduled at Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville, with the tiny Martinsville track serving as the final cutoff race. The four drivers who advance from Martinsville will race for the title at Phoenix Nov. 6.

The high drama of the Phoenix race, in which the championship will go to the highest finisher of the four competing drivers, will be carried by both NBC and Peacock.

Post-race commentary and analysis for all six remaining Cup races will be carried on Peacock.

Kyle Larson is the series defending champion. Joey Logano carries the point lead into Sunday’s race at Talladega.