To start this year, no one had Kyle Busch leaving Joe Gibbs Racing after the season on their bingo card. While it still hasn’t officially happened, most experts suggest the two-time Cup Series champion will be driving for a new team in 2023 after 15 years with JGR.
This past weekend before the race at Watkins Glen, Busch got candid with reporters and admitted how much of a toll free agency has taken on him. He also talked about expectations for wherever he’s racing next season and how he understandably doesn’t want to spend more time away from his family.
During NBC’s Sunday prerace show, the crew addressed the driver’s remarks, and Kyle Petty didn’t hold back.
Kyle Busch describes ending his career
Kyle Busch met with reporters several weeks ago at Richmond, where, instead of addressing his current situation, he peered into the future, specifically the conclusion of his career and the plans on how he envisioned it all ending.
“This situation right now is very important to me as well as Kyle Busch Motorsports because wherever this next place is — whether it’s Joe Gibbs Racing or whoever — I would like to not have to go through this again,” Busch said. “I’ve got six, seven, maybe eight more years if I play all of this out perfectly, Brexton and I, we share a truck when he turns 16 years old,” he said of his son, who is currently seven. “When he’s 16 and 17, and then it’s his when he’s 18, and I’m done. I’m out. So that’s the perfect play.”
Busch talks about challenges of free agency
This past weekend at Watkins Glen, Busch made his weekly appearance in the media center, where he was peppered with questions. After acknowledging there were no new status updates to report, NBC’s Dustin Long asked the driver if he could provide a sense of what life has been like as a free agent.
“It’s been hard as hell. It’s been a lot of sleepless nights figuring out what your future is and all that sort of stuff. Everybody’s like, ‘Oh well, you’ve made plenty of money. You’re fine. You don’t have anything to worry about.’ Yeah, that’s true, but you still want to do what you love to do.
“Going through many of the same things but it’s way way harder because now you have Kyle Busch Motorsports that you’ve got to think about. You’ve got a building that you’ve got to pay on. You have a building note and all that sort of stuff so there’s a lot of pieces and that’s why it’s not so simple. If you look at each aspect of everything of my life which some of you may not fully know, there’s just a lot. Trying to take care of all those pieces and make sure everything goes as it was or as it has been the last few years would certainly be nice.”
Long then asked if finding a competitive team had been a source for some of his sleepless nights.
“Trust me; I don’t feel like it’s fair to me or my family or anything else if we’re going to have to spend less time together moving forward because we are going to have to change our lifestyle no questions,” he said. “There’s a big change coming. Is it worth it to go run around and not have an opportunity to win right away versus building something versus jumping in something that can win. All of those questions are certainly being weighed out.”
Kyle Petty gets blunt
NBC aired portions of Busch’s comments during the Countdown to Green prerace show at Watkins Glen. Dale Jarrett suggested the situation is a wake-up call for the 37-year-old because no one expected he’d be dealing with this situation at this point of his career. He also said that he believed the JGR driver had earned the right to be paid for his services.
Kyle Petty agreed the future Hall of Famer deserved to be paid but also bluntly suggested in this market that Busch needed to be willing to make some sacrifices.
“He’s earned the right to ask for a lot of money, but if the market won’t bear it, tough stuff, dude,” Petty opened. “It’s like that in any business. This is a business. It’s a sport this afternoon, but it’s a business every other day. Sometimes you have to compromise. You have to look different.
“This should be a cautionary tale for every young race car driver out there. You’re only worth what the market will bear. No matter how many races you win. This guy’s won 60 races, two championships. No matter what you do as a winner, you’ve got to do stuff off the race track.
“And the times are changing. You have to change with it. He’s going to have to compromise a little bit. He’s going to have to look a little bit different. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. You’ve got to be away from home sometimes. That’s the nature of the business of being a race car driver. And I hate to be blunt like that, but he’s got to compromise from where he’s at and figure out what works for him and his family and for the sport as long as he wants to drive a race car.”
Immediately after Petty finished talking, Jarrett told every driver watching, regardless of where they are in their respective careers, that’s the best advice they’ll ever receive. The question is, will the one driver Petty was talking to actually take it?