Joe Gibbs made good on his promise — to lock in Kyle Busch for the foreseeable future.
USAToday reported on Friday that Busch, 27, has signed a contract extension to remain with the No. 18 team. A source close to the situation acknowledged that an announcement is expected during the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour on Jan. 24.
Gibbs told FOXSports.com during the NASCAR season finale at Homestead Motor Speedway that he hoped to sign both the M&Ms sponsorship and Busch before the start of the 2013 season to eliminate any distraction for the driver and the team. Busch’s contract initially ran through the end of this year.
“We’re working really hard on that, we want to do that early so we’re not going into the last year,” Gibbs said Nov. 18. “M&M’s is on board, but their contract is still extended into the future. Hopefully, we get everything clarified in the next two weeks. I’m expecting everything to kind of be in place in the next two weeks. That would be a game plan for us if we could. That would be exciting.”
Busch is one of the most gifted racers in the garage. He began moving up the ranks starting with trucks at 16 and has amassed 105 career wins throughout NASCAR’s top three tours, including 24 victories in Sprint Cup — 20 of which were earned since moving to JGR from Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.
He barely missed the Chase for the Sprint Cup in 2012, however the team pulled together to produce seven top-five finishes during the final 10 races of the season.
With Busch, Denny Hamlin and the addition of 2003 champion Matt Kenseth to JGR’s roster, it makes for one of the most formidable lineups in the sport for the long-term.
“For (Kyle), you see his spirit and everything and for us, we’re working real hard on getting everything done long-term with us,” Gibbs added in November. “We’re excited about that. We just love Kyle’s attitude and the way he goes after things. He loves it. That’s what he wants to do – is race cars and trucks.
“I think he’s going to have a big year (in 2013). He’s going to do some stuff that’s yet to be announced. But he’s going to be doing some stuff for himself and he’s going to do a bunch for us. I don’t’ know at what point we release all this stuff, but we kind of got it all set.”
Although Busch still fields a Nationwide Series car and trucks out of his own race shop – Kyle Busch Motorsports – he will also share driving duties in a JGR NNS car with his teammates Hamlin and Kenseth. Busch, who leads the Nationwide Series with 51 career victories, went winless in his own equipment with Triad Motors in 2012 – ending an eight-year streak.