Monday, 27 January 2020

NASCAR: What does Joe Gibbs Racing news mean for Kyle Busch? – Beyond the Flag

NASCAR: What does Joe Gibbs Racing news mean for Kyle Busch? – Beyond the Flag
13 Nov

Joe Gibbs Racing’s confirmation of Riley Herbst for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season means the team will have three full-time drivers. What does that mean for Kyle Busch?

Among the full-time NASCAR Cup Series drivers who compete in Xfinity Series and Truck Series races, Kyle Busch is by far the most notable.

Since becoming a full-time Cup Series driver in the 2005 season, he has recorded more victories in the Xfinity Series and Truck Series (147) than any drivers not named Richard Petty have recorded across all three of NASCAR’s top series — throughout their entire careers.

Every year, the 34-year-old Las Vegas, Nevada native competes in the maximum allowable amount of Xfinity Series races. That limit is currently seven per season, but it is set to be reduced to just five next year.

Busch is on record as saying that he will be done competing in the Xfinity Series once he reaches 100 wins. He discussed it once again this past weekend.

Here is what he had to say, according to Jayski.

“Yeah, I’ve said it over and over again. I would be there by now and I would have been out of it by now but apparently NASCAR and the fans love me there so much they keep make limitations on keeping me there. I’ve also said that I’ll get to 100 and then I don’t need to be there. That’s just kind of a number I would like to get to. From there I would just to favors for Joe (Gibbs, team owner). If Joe needs me to go over there, and fill-in or whatever, or if he needs my help to sell some races for someone else to run here or there, I would still help.”

It’s clear he still wants to compete in the Xfinity Series. He is currently four shy of that 100-win mark with 96 victories. His current win total may be almost twice as clear as the second highest total on the all-time wins list, but he is still aiming for that century mark.

The only other drivers in NASCAR history to win at least 100 races in one series are Petty, a 200-time Cup Series race winner, and David Pearson, a 105-time Cup Series race winner.

So what does Joe Gibbs Racing’s recent slate of Xfinity Series news mean for Busch?

The team confirmed that Harrison Burton is set to replace the Cup Series-bound Christopher Bell behind the wheel of the #20 Toyota for the 2020 season. They then confirmed that Brandon Jones is set to return for his third season behind the wheel of the #19 Toyota.

Most recently, they confirmed that Riley Herbst is set to be the full-time driver of the #18 Toyota. It was this news that solidified their lineup for next year, and that lineup consists of three full-time drivers, something that they have never previously been able to say in the Xfinity Series.

Will Busch still be able to compete in his five races?

The #18 Toyota hasn’t had a full-time driver since the 2015 season when Daniel Suarez drove it. From the 2016 season up until now, Busch has only driven the #18 Toyota in the Xfinity Series, wheeling it to 20 victories in 41 starts.

While it is true that Joe Gibbs Racing have never run three cars for three full-time drivers in the Xfinity Series, they have fielded four cars in select races before. A fourth car next year would effectively be an “All-Star” car, which had been rumored even before any of these three drivers were confirmed by the team for next year.

With Busch only allowed to compete in five Xfinity Series races per season now, there’s no reason to believe that this news changes anything for him.

Before he drove the #18 Toyota, he simply spent time driving the #54 Toyota, wheeling it to 25 victories in 89 races from 2012 to 2015. Denny Hamlin has also driven for Joe Gibbs Racing in select Xfinity Series races in each of the last 10 years, and there is no reason to believe that trend won’t continue via a fourth car, either.

Even with the recent slate of Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series confirmations, Busch’s pursuit of 100 wins lives on.

Next: Top 10 NASCAR drivers of all-time

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When will Kyle Busch ultimately secure his 100th career NASCAR Xfinity Series victory and retire from the series? It could be as early as next year provided that he competes in five races like he is allowed to.



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