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Busch to Gibbs?
Busch to Gibbs?
Busch to Gibbs?
Sirius Speedway's Dave Moody is reporting free agent to be Kyle Busch has agreed to join Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 to replace the under performing J.J. Yeley.
"Kyle has made his decision and is in the process of informing the teams of his preference,"' said Jeff Dickerson, who represents Busch through Motorsports Management International.
"As there are many details that still need to be worked out, Kyle will not be making that decision public at this time."
The report also contends Gibbs will switch from Chevrolet to Toyota next year.
Gibbs officials have already informed Hall of Fame Racing that they will not continue to provide the team with engines next season, prompting Hall Of Fame to contact Richard Childress Racing about a similar engine-supply deal for 2008.
Yeley will reportedly sign with the Wood Brothers/JTG team and pilot the No. 21 Ford next season.
Re: Busch to Gibbs?
Busch chooses Gibbs after 7-week free agency
August 6, 2007
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -Kyle Busch chose to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing next season and began informing other teams Monday of his decision.
A source close to Busch told The Associated Press that the driver had selected Gibbs after a seven-week search that began when Hendrick Motorsports released the 22-year-old driver to make room for Dale Earnhardt Jr. next season. The source requested anonymity because the deal was not finalized.
``Kyle has made his decision and is in the process of informing the teams of his preference,'' said Jeff Dickerson, who represents Busch through Motorsports Management International.
``As there are many details that still need to be worked out, Kyle will not be making that decision public at this time.''
Two car owners who had actively pursued Busch told the AP that the driver informed them Monday he had not selected their teams. They requested anonymity because they didn't reveal Busch's selection.
Gibbs currently fields cars for two-time series champion Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley, who is in the final year of his contract. Busch is expected to replace Yeley, who has not put up the results necessary to keep his ride.
While Stewart and Hamlin are thick in Nextel Cup title contention, Yeley is 21st in the standings with just one top-10 finish.
Busch signed with Rick Hendrick shortly before his 18th birthday and immediately began racing in the Busch Series. He had previously driven for car owner Jack Roush, but was able to void his contract when NASCAR passed a rule that said all drivers had to be at least 18.
Hendrick put him in top equipment, and moved him up to the Cup Series in 2005. Busch has scored four Cup wins, eight Busch victories and won four times in the Truck Series. He made the Chase for the championship last season, but finished 10th in the standings.
He's currently eighth, with one win this year, and on pace to make the Chase again. But he became expendable at Hendrick when the team needed to make room for Earnhardt.
Hendrick said at the time that negotiations on a new contract had stalled because so many team owners were interested in the young, talented driver, which made it easier to sign Earnhardt.
But Busch later said he was unaware of outside interest and had only been interested in extending his deal with Hendrick. He then fired his representation and moved to MMI, which also represents Stewart.
Re: Busch to Gibbs?
Kyle Busch's move to join Stewart at Gibbs intriguing
"Kyle Busch, he's the one guy that's probably going to hurt somebody out there. He's what we like to call a bird with no feathers."
-- Tony Stewart, Feb. 2006 (Daytona)
"[Tony Stewart's] trying to kill me."
-- Kyle Busch, on the No. 5 team's radio in March 2006 (Las Vegas)
"On the track? [My relationship with Tony is] probably not very good. But as far as off the race track, once he takes his helmet off, he's a completely different person. You're able to talk to him and be receptive of him. It's good to be able to have that relationship off the race track, I guess."
-- Kyle Busch, March 2006
There's no arguing that Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart are two of the most -- shall we say, unique -- personalities on the Nextel Cup circuit. Neither is afraid to say what he really feels. They let their talent do the talking on the track, while their persona drives the media, other teams and NASCAR officials crazy off it. In between, they've spent a decent portion of their careers trading more nasty barbs than Republicans and Democrats.
Now, they'll have to work together as teammates.
The news that Busch, 22, will join Joe Gibbs Racing next year raises more than a few eyebrows. It's not because of the driver he's replacing; the writing was on the wall for J.J. Yeley and the No. 18 car at Gibbs for quite sometime now. No, the skepticism comes from Busch aligning himself with the one organization that would appear to lack the ingredient he sorely needs to be consistently successful.
Just take a look at Busch's other options. At Dale Earnhardt Inc. -- an opportunity both colleague Lars Anderson and I felt Busch would take -- he had an chance to be tutored by one of the most respected veterans in the sport: Mark Martin. As the new fourth man in an organization on the rise, Busch would have clearly stood out as the team's new No. 1 driver. He'd have done so with an older, wiser veteran leader who not only likes Busch, but also has openly stated he would relish the opportunity to cultivate Busch's talent.
Even if DEI wasn't for Busch -- and it wasn't for lack of trying -- he could have landed on his feet elsewhere. At Richard Childress Racing he would have been put under the wing of team leader and role model Jeff Burton, ironically the latest in a long line of drivers miffed at Busch's on-track aggressiveness. But instead, Busch has chosen to align himself with ... Stewart?
Stewart man is one of the best drivers ever to put on a NASCAR uniform, but when it comes to behaving nicely in public, even he will admit he's hardly the best teacher. And based on the way Busch has conducted himself in the wake of his release from Hendrick -- openly complaining about anything and everything, to the point he needed to issue an internal apology to his teammates last month -- he needs an injection of veteran maturity.
That's not to say Gibbs won't provide his new talent with top-notch support and the equipment he desires after having driven the best the sport has had to offer. Gibbs Racing has won two out of the last five Cup titles -- both with Stewart. In Denny Hamlin it boasts last season's Rookie of the Year and current title challenger to Jeff Gordon. That makes Busch No. 3 on the totem pole -- not exactly the situation most thought he would accept after being third in line at Hendrick -- but that doesn't mean he can't be successful. A possible move to Toyota positions Busch as its star of the future, with the youngster expected to peak talentwise just as the Camry reaches full potential. With the right combination of crew chief and engineering support, Busch could easily be a title contender with Gibbs in 2008.
In the end, though, the biggest key to Busch's future will be how he gets along with Stewart. The relationship between two of NASCAR's most aggressive personalities has been a roller coaster ride since Busch burst onto the Nextel Cup scene in 2005. Most of the bad blood occurred last season, when Stewart became angry with Busch's driving style on several occasions. It peaked with an incident at Las Vegas in which Stewart tried to rile the youngster into spinning out. While their animosity has cooled a bit, their dislike for each other popped up again in February, when Stewart made a very visible bump to knock Busch out of the way to win the Bud Shootout.
"I guess he got tired of reading Carquest or something and decided to get me out of the way," Busch said after the race. "It was clear as day on TV; I just saw the replay. The only bad part about it [is] he's the guy who complained we were going to kill somebody out here."
Assuming Busch and Stewart put their differences aside -- and that's a big if -- Busch will still be forced to do a lot of growing up on his own. Can he do it? It won't be easy. For example, his brother, Kurt, has appeared to grow by leaps and bounds since joining Penske Racing in 2006, but he's still prone to making mistakes, as June's $100,000 fine and near-suspension for running into Stewart on pit road suggests. Kurt has, at least, a teammate in Ryan Newman who won't cause him any off-the-track problems.
At the moment, his younger brother can't say the same for his new organization.
One always hopes these types of moves work out for the best, but common sense tells me coach Gibbs will need plenty of frequent flyer miles next season, as there will likely be more than a few emergency meetings needed to keep his team on the same page.
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