Win or Lose, Kyle Busch's NASCAR Move to Richard Childress Will Be a Ton of Fun

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  • Kyle Busch will join Richard Childress Racing’s NASCAR Cup Series team in 2023.
  • The move will make it three different Cup teams for Busch during his Hall of Fame Career, as he’s previously driven Cup cars for Hendrick Motorsports and his current team, Joe Gibbs Racing.
  • He drove a short time in the Truck Series for Jack Roush.
  • In addition to two Cup championships, the 37-year-old Busch has 60 victories in the series to rank ninth all-time (tied with Kevin Harvick) in the series.

    Kurt Busch rolled into NASCAR in 2001 with the force of a desert storm, bringing with him a history of success on bullrings in and around Las Vegas.

    He wasn’t well known, and there was little reason to think he’d soon be a star. He became one.

    It was a bit surprising then, after Busch’s initial run of success, that he had some news for reporters who had grown increasingly used to Busch making news both good and bad. “Just wait,” he said. “Just wait ’til my little brother gets here.”

    Now, “little brother” is moving. Richard Childress Racing announced on Tuesday that Kyle Busch will join the organization’s NASCAR Cup Series team in 2023. Busch, who has 60 Cup Series wins, will drive the No. 8 Chevrolet Camaro ZL. Randall Burnett will serve as crew chief.

    “The addition of Kyle Busch to the Richard Childress Racing lineup is significant, not only for our organization, but for the sport as a whole,” said Richard Childress, chairman and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. “Kyle is a proven contender at the highest levels of the sport, and I believe that his experience and dedication to motorsports will elevate our race program across the board. I’ve always admired Kyle’s driving style and his ability to win and race for championships ever since he entered the sport. Who wouldn’t want a proven NASCAR Cup Series Champion driving their car?”

    No one envisioned Kurt Busch as prophet, but that he was.

    Little brother Kyle not only followed in Kurt’s tire tracks; he also drove with authority completely over them, blazing a deeper and wider—and, at times, more noxious, path. The sport had never seen anything quite like him—bold, brash, occasionally obnoxious and more than ready to both amaze and irritate fans in equal measure.

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    Kyle Busch’s move to Richard Childress Racing also means a move from Toyota to Chevrolet,

    Chris GraythenGetty Images

    Amidst all of it, he would become known as the best wheelman of his generation, a no-fear magician in the cockpit who would run over Grandma—his and yours—to win.

    This all began at a bullring track appropriately named the Bullring, a .375-mile asphalt ring of fire in the shadow of Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Busch brothers lived in Las Vegas because their parents, Tom and Gaye, had decided years earlier that they didn’t like the cold winters in Schaumburg, Illinois, so they moved to a capital of hot and dry—Las Vegas. Tom jumped into racing there, and it logically followed that his sons, first Kurt and then Kyle, would drive along, for, as has been seen so often, the wild racing gene often spreads from father to son.

    They were teenage hellions at the Bullring, racing nearly identical Legends cars with untamed abandon as their father watched anxiously, knowing he had two cars and two engines and no replacements at the shop. This economic reality mattered little to the boys, fiery kids who were racing against much older drivers, most of whom were basically hobbyists out for a good time. This was no hobby for the Busch boys. They were upwardly mobile from the moment they raced their Big Wheels in the family driveway.

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    Bullring drivers not named Busch remember the brothers passing them—one on the outside and one on the inside—on the tight track, a trick that was especially difficult because moving around another car on the outside was a task generally reserved for the brave.

    More than a few competitors left the Bullring fuming at this or that tactic by the Busch brothers.

    The Busches left the Bullring with the trophies.

    No retreat. No surrender.

    From as farflung an outpost as Las Vegas, the Busches soon arrived on Cup shores. This was no surprise to those who had seen them race.

    Kurt arrived full-time in 2001 and wasted little time stirring the pot. He won four times in 2002 and four more times in 2003, the year his boiling feud with Jimmy Spencer reached a peak at Michigan with Spencer punching Busch through Busch’s race-car window.

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    Brother Kurt Busch, right, always knew that Kyle would be a star.

    James GilbertGetty Images

    By 2005, Kurt had won 14 times at the Cup level. Kyle arrived in his wake that year after success in the Truck and ARCA series, his ambitions delayed a bit by NASCAR limiting its big-ticket series to drivers at least 18 years old. The year he turned 18, Kyle, by then a developmental driver for Hendrick Motorsports (after a brief stay at Roush Fenway Racing), drove seven times in the Xfinity Series and won five times on that tour for Hendrick in 2004.

    The Kyle-Hendrick fit was far from perfect, however, and Kyle moved on in 2008 to Joe Gibbs Racing, where he immediately served notice that, given the right cars and team, he might be almost invincible. He won eight times in Cup that year while continuing to polish a persona of parallels: fast but furious.

    By 2012, Kyle had matched Kurt in number of Cup wins with 24. In 2015, Kyle joined Kurt as a Cup champion and then moved one title ahead of his brother with another championship in 2019.

    Throughout Kyle’s rise through the sport, an odd dynamic developed. He wrestled with other drivers, some media members and a certain segment of fans, but his take-no-prisoners driving style and active sponsorship by Mars/M&Ms, which sprinkled his cars with bright colors and candy, also helped create Rowdy Nation. His fan base painted grandstands with bright yellow M&Ms apparel, and kids looking for a first racing hero lined up for the Candyman.

    Now, after a decade and a half of blistering success with Gibbs, Kyle Busch moves on. Richard Childress Racing will be his fourth major stop along a trail that eventually will put him in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

    Whether this move satisfies remains to be seen, but it certainly will be entertaining.

    Just watch.


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