Gibbs ‘surprised’ team hasn’t signed 2-time Cup champ Busch

July 18, 2022 GMT
Kyle Busch drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Lebanon, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Kyle Busch drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Lebanon, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Kyle Busch drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Lebanon, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Kyle Busch drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Lebanon, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)
Kyle Busch drives during a NASCAR Cup Series auto race Sunday, June 26, 2022, in Lebanon, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Joe Gibbs said he’s surprised his eponymous race team has yet to sign two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch to a contract for 2023.

Busch faced an uncertain future after M&M Mars announced it would pull its marketing spend at the end of this season. The company had sponsored Busch since he joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008.

The search for a new sponsor has dragged on and Busch has clearly been irked he doesn’t have a new deal. Busch said Saturday a new contract “would be nice, sooner than later.”

Busch did not offer specifics but said he has shopped himself to other teams, though championship-caliber rides are scarce.

“It’s been hard,” Gibbs said Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “We’ve worked really hard to try and get things done. It is hard, though. You’ve got to put a lot in place to make things work out. We’re working as hard as we can. We’re going after a number of different directions. So yeah, I’m surprised at this point that we haven’t been able to get that finished.”

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The 37-year-old Busch has 222 wins across NASCAR’s three national series and is the only active Cup driver with multiple championships. Busch has just one win this season and finished 12th Sunday at New Hampshire.

Dave Alpern, President of Joe Gibbs Racing, had previously said he intended to have Busch back next year. Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson said last week the manufacturer was “working diligently, with hand-in-glove,” to keep Busch in the JGR fold.

“But honestly, it doesn’t matter how soon or late it gets done,” Busch said Saturday. “Until there’s an announcement that somebody else is driving the 18 car, then I feel like I still have a seat.”

JGR driver Christopher Bell won Sunday’s race to clinch a spot in the NASCAR’s playoffs.

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