NASCAR Cup Series
Kyle Busch searching for new sponsor in last season with M&M's
NASCAR Cup Series

Kyle Busch searching for new sponsor in last season with M&M's

Updated Jan. 20, 2022 7:44 p.m. ET

By Bob Pockrass
FOX Sports NASCAR Writer

HUNTERSVILLE, N.C. — Kyle Busch went from studio to studio in usual preseason form Tuesday and Wednesday, posing for photos and doing interviews. 

It was his last time doing so in his usual M&M’s colors.

Joe Gibbs Racing announced in late December that Mars Wrigley would not sponsor Busch beginning in 2023, as the company exits the sport after 32 years as a sponsor of a race car, including 24 with the M&M’s brand.


The two-time Cup champion Busch has been around long enough to know that companies often switch marketing strategies, so to have the same primary sponsor for the majority of races for 15 years is something to feel good about. But this news also brings the sting of disappointment.

"It’s very unfortunate for us and for M&M’s also, I feel like," the 36-year-old Busch said Wednesday in an interview with FOX Sports as part of his preseason duties with the network. "We just have to go through with whatever happens next."

Where does this leave Busch, who has won 59 Cup races and is considered one of the best drivers of his era? He signed a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2019, effective the start of the 2020 season. Typically, JGR contracts are three years with at least one if not multiple options, though Busch’s success could have dictated longer terms.

No matter the contract, if a team doesn’t have a sponsor for a driver, it could lead to them going their separate ways.

"I’m good where I’m at, absolutely," said Busch, who found a home at JGR 15 years ago, following his release from Hendrick Motorsports after three Cup seasons. "It would be nice to just have all the discussions out the window and have us ready to have something to announce.

"We’re very early in that game, so we’re not ready for that. Obviously, I’m good where I’m at, would love to stay, and hopefully all that works out."

When asked Wednesday if he had to sign for 2023, he said: "You’re getting into contract talk now, so I’ll defer [to management]."

Busch said he has not had much involvement yet in talks with potential sponsors while JGR has been out trying to sell him for 2023. For their part, JGR officials indicated that they have no intention of seeing Busch leave.

Busch also has deep ties with Toyota, which coordinates with vendors and suppliers to sponsor Kyle Busch Motorsports drivers.

"Kyle is a huge part of our company and will be a huge part of our company," JGR president Dave Alpern told the Sports Business Journal.

While the news was announced in December, JGR and Busch have known of the decision by Mars since August.

"Thankfully, we have enough lead time that hopefully we can [come] up with a good, viable replacement and the next company that will be adorned all over me and hopefully continue to go race for wins and championships down the road," Busch said.

Busch and JGR should have two goals when looking for a new sponsor. The first should be to have a company take up as many of the 30 races as possible; the more races, the more time Busch can dedicate to activation with one company as the sole focus. He already has Interstate Batteries as a sponsor for six races per year.

The other goal should be to find a sponsor more in tune with Busch’s fiery personality. While Busch and M&M’s made their relationship work, his in-car radio is often not suitable for family listening, and there are other companies that could take advantage of his brash persona.

"M&M’s has been a great sponsor," Busch said. "Obviously, they allow me to be me a little bit more, gave me some leniency maybe than some others might.

"In a new sponsor search, you would look for someone that is kind of around the same way. But anything is possible, and we’ll just have to see who that next company is."

Could that sponsor potentially be a deal that includes Busch's 6-year-old son, Brexton, who recently started racing?

"That has been talked about," he said.

In the meantime, Busch will focus on winning more races, which would be the best way to thank Mars for their 15 years together and attract a new primary partner.

"It would be fantastic to win a third championship ... but obviously, it’s a hard sport. It’s difficult. You see how challenging it is each and every week," Busch said.

"It would be nice to send them off with a bang and a great season and one that will always be remembered."

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Thinking out loud

NASCAR ruled that Justin Haley won’t have rookie status in the NASCAR Cup Series. That makes sense, considering that he has one win and 31 career starts in the series.

But it shouldn’t take until January for media and fans to know who has rookie status, which NASCAR determines on a case-by-case basis. NASCAR should just say that a driver who has had a certain number of starts in a series or a series of a "higher" level won’t be designated as a rookie, as far as the rookie of the year is concerned.

What should that number of starts be? It used to be more than seven in any one season. With a full season of 36 races, 36 would be fine with me. If you think that is too much and want it to be 10 or 15? That would work, too, but there typically are so few rookies that being a little more flexible could lead to a more dramatic battle for the top rookie award.

Social spotlight 

They said it

"I don’t think about it when I have it on. But definitely, the first time I saw my suit with the champion’s mark on it, I was like, ‘Wow, that’s really cool.’" Kyle Larson on the champion patch on his uniform

Bob Pockrass has spent decades covering motorsports, including the past 30 Daytona 500s. He joined FOX Sports in 2019 following stints at ESPN, Sporting News, NASCAR Scene magazine and The (Daytona Beach) News-Journal. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram @bobpockrass. Looking for more NASCAR content? Sign up for the FOX Sports NASCAR Newsletter with Bob Pockrass!


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