Driver was pursued by other teams when making decision
Joe Gibbs Racing formally announced Thursday that driver Kyle Busch has agreed to a long-term contract extension with the organization.
Busch came to JGR in 2008 and has won 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races in that time, eight of which came during a career-best season in his first year in a Gibbs Toyota.
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“I did it all privately,” Busch said of the due diligence when contemplating his next step in what has been a successful Sprint Cup Series career. “I did meet with some other teams and they were very interested; very nice, lucrative deals, I guess you could say, that were out there to pursue.
“Ultimately what it comes down to (are) relationships and things that you have developed over the last … five or six years here. The relationship that I have with Coach (Joe) Gibbs and J.D. as well as the Toyota folks, the M&M’s folks, Toyota, Norm Miller (of sponsor Interstate Batteries), they treat me so well.”
Busch, Denny Hamlin and newcomer Matt Kenseth, formerly of Roush Fenway Racing, make up the JGR Cup stable. Kenseth joined the team during the offseason while Hamlin signed a contract extension last year.
Busch, 27, has 24 Cup wins and a best points finish of fifth. He has qualified for the Chase five times, but failed to do so last season.
“I did have options, which was awesome,” he said. “I just felt like obviously this was the best place for me. I’ve been here for a while now. I was a part of bringing Matt in; having Denny as teammate -- that’s been working well the past few years; the three crew chiefs we have, Jason Ratcliff, who I’ve won a Nationwide championship with, Dave Rogers, who I’ve won Nationwide and Cup races with, and Darian Grubb who’s been at Hendrick (Motorsports) like I had.
“To me, it just shows nothing but positive growth over here for this organization.”
Rogers, Busch’s current crew chief, said he was never worried that his driver would bolt for greener pastures.
“Not at all,” Rogers said. “Kyle and I are great friends on and off the track. And we have a lot of one-on-one talks. I never got the impression that he was seriously looking at going elsewhere.
“The only thing he told me was, ‘hey I want to focus on racing during the season and focus on the contract during the offseason. I’m not going anywhere. You’re not going anywhere, so let’s not worry about it.’ So that wasn’t a big deal for us. I was confident that we’d be back here together this year.”
J.D. Gibbs said such information would have been nice to know, but “those crew chiefs, they’ve got their heads in the sand,” he said, laughing.
“No, it was something that we obviously wanted to get done sooner than later. We didn’t want a situation where you have a lame duck year. We’ve been doing this 21 years now, so there’s always a concern. But overall, we felt pretty good about it.”
In addition to his Cup contract extension, the agreement also calls for Busch to compete in 25 races for JGR in the Nationwide Series, where he will drive the No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota.
Last year, Busch drove for his own Kyle Busch Motorsports team. He said the organization would continue to compete in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series.
“KBM is still running a full-time Nationwide car this year with Parker Kligerman in the No. 77 … and we have a full-time truck with Joey Coulter,” he said. “And I have my part-time truck that I’m going to run for approximately 10 races right now.”
In addition to his 24 Cup wins, Busch has a Nationwide Series-best 51 victories. He is No. 2 on the Truck Series’ win list with 30 career victories.