CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A move once considered unthinkable became reality Tuesday when Kyle Busch announced that he will drive the No. 8 car for Richard Childress Racing next season.
“This is probably one of the biggest days of my life and my career,” Busch said.
“What a big day,” car owner Richard Childress said.
Busch called his decision to join RCR “a no-brainer” and cited the opportunity to win races as a factor. Busch said it is a multi-year deal.
The 37-year-old Busch made the announcement at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is where his career will be honored once it is complete.
The two-time Cup champion — the only active multi-time Cup champ in the series — will make the move to RCR after having been with Joe Gibbs Racing since 2008.
Busch has scored 56 of his 60 career Cup victories with Joe Gibbs Racing. No other driver has won as many series races in that time. Jimmie Johnson is next with 50 and Kevin Harvick has 49.
Busch has won a total of 146 races in Cup and Xfinity with Joe Gibbs Racing, scoring 90 Xfinity wins with the organization.
Busch thanked car owner Joe Gibbs for all that he has done for him.
Gibbs said in a statement: “Kyle has been a major part of our history and success here at Joe Gibbs Racing. We are thankful for all his contributions to our organization over the years. When you look at all that he has accomplished already, it is truly remarkable, and we know someday we will be celebrating his Hall of Fame induction.
“We also know he still has many more achievements in our sport ahead of him including competing for the championship this season. We wish Kyle, Samantha, Brexton, and Lennix the very best.”
Harvick said in late July that wherever Busch went, he would make an impact.
“I know there’s a lot of things that go on around Kyle, but in the end Kyle is still one of the best that’s ever come through this garage,” Harvick said. “There’s a lot of teams that can say that they’ve never had one of those types of drivers. He literally could rebuild an organization if somebody took a chance that hasn’t had one of those types of drivers.”
Busch becomes the first Cup champion Richard Childress Racing has had since Dale Earnhardt, who died in a last-lap crash in the 2001 Daytona 500.
“We’d like to welcome Kyle back to Team Chevy, where he started his NASCAR career,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. Vice President, Performance and Motorsports, in a statement. “As a 60 Cup race winner and two-time champion, he will be a valuable addition to Richard Childress Racing and the Chevrolet line-up. We look forward to working with Kyle starting in 2023.”
Childress said sponsor announcements would be coming later. He said that he told Tyler Reddick about an hour before the announcement that he would not be in the No. 8 next year. Randall Burnett, who is serving as Reddick’s crew chief this season, will be Busch’s crew chief next year.
Childress said RCR will have three charters for next year and have Busch, Reddick and Austin Dillon in its lineup.
No one could have imagined at the start of the year this would be Busch’s last season with JGR.
But 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.
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.
They’ve since bridged the gap and will begin working together in 2023.