But that’s exactly what Busch thought was going to happen at this time last year.
The polarizing driver was in the last year of his contract with Joe Gibbs Racing, the team that he had driven for since 2008, winning two championships along the way.
But when his longtime sponsor, M&Ms and Mars, announced that they would be leaving the sport at the end of the 2022 season, Kyle’s future was suddenly up in the air for the first time in his career.
The uncertainty lasted longer than anyone expected, with rumors surfacing that Gibbs had offered Busch a contract at a lower salary and that Busch had refused. And as negotiations dragged on into the summer, Busch’s name was connected to several different rides before he ultimately landed at Richard Childress Racing as the driver of the #8 car.
But Busch recently revealed that at one point last summer, he didn’t think he would be back in the Cup Series in 2023.
In an interview with Fox Sports, Busch said during the Loudon, New Hampshire race last summer, he told NASCAR CEO Jim France that he wouldn’t be returning in 2023:
“I told Jim France, I said, ‘Nice knowing you. I’m not going to be here next year.’
And so he was like, ‘Wait, what? What does that mean?’ He then found out.”
Busch wonders whether it was that conversation with France that led to Richard Childress showing interest in the superstar driver. After all, it would be a terrible look for NASCAR to lose one of their top drivers due to a lack of sponsorship, so there’s no doubt the sport was hoping that things would work out for Busch.
And of course we know now that they did work out, and worked out pretty well.
Busch has already won 3 races this season in his new ride with Richard Childress Racing, and currently sits third in the points standings.
Not bad for a driver who didn’t even think he would be back in the sport this year.