Column: Childress finally laughs at Kyle Bush’s snatch

CHARLOTTE, NC (AFP) – Kyle Busch took to Bristol Motor Speedway’s garage with a blown engine, effectively ending his stint with Joe Gibbs Racing at 15 seasons.

Sure, there are still seven races left before Busch makes the keys to Toyota’s #18. But two blown engines in his first three playoffs knocked him out of competition, and between now and the end of November, Busch has been riding the JGR series.

He’s already found a new home: Richard Childress Racing has picked up the only active driver to achieve multiple Cup Championships.

As a reward for signing, Childress presented Bosch with a Rolex. He told Busch he could run the Indianapolis 500 with a Chevrolet-backed team.

The whole thing seemed surreal on so many levels.

As a history lesson, Childress in 2011 tried to fight Busch after a Truck Series race and even removed his watch before the showdown. He told a healer to “grab my watch” right before the fight which earned the Hall of Fame owner a $150,000 fine to NASCAR.

Then there is the fact of what responsible implementation of research has become over the past fifteen years. Childress plays for a two-car team that last won the Cup in 1994 with the late Dale Earnhardt. Bush, a two-time champion with 60 career wins, is 37 years old and likely to have a decade of racing.

There is also a chaotic announcement in July by Tyler Reddick that he will be leaving RCR at the end of the 2023 season to drive Toyota for the 23XI race. RCR barely had a chance to start discussions about a long-term extension and Reddick’s defection – although it gave the team a year to fill its seat – looked like a fatal blow.

“We are focused on winning the championship in 2022 and 2023,” Childress said in a brief statement on the day Riddick announced his move, “Although the timing couldn’t be worse.”

RCR has fallen on hard times and long since lost its place among the elites of NASCAR. Reddick’s departure would have been devastating with all of Shepherd’s alliances and the idea that Reddick was a major part of Childress’ recovery.

He needed a replacement machine gun.

Kyle Bush, come on down.

It was Childress who finally laughed, as despite Toyota’s ploy to get Reddick “bomb,” a scheduled media zoom revealed to the surprise that he was going to Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan. Toyota thought it quickly pulled one on Childress, a former NRA board member who in 2017 shot three intruders who broke into his home.

His response was to cut the precious jewel of the Toyota fleet. Busch is not only a winning Toyota driver at all three NASCAR National Levels, but his Kyle Busch Motorsports program is Toyota’s flagship truck series program.

Bosch is now returning to Chevrolet – where he started his career at the age of 18 with Hendrick Motorsports – and has also traded in his trucks with Team Chevrolet. This marks the largest free agent signing in NASCAR since 2007 when Rick Hendrick fired Kyle Busch to hire Dale Earnhardt Jr.

“When we talked about winning races and winning championships, I looked him in the eye and I saw that look in the eye of Dale Earnhardt Sr.,” Childress said of his new driver. “He’s hungry. We’ll win.”

“When all the (Busch) rumors started as you walked into the race shop, the excitement was in people’s voices when they asked, ‘Is Kyle Busch really coming here to drive for us? “

Childress even took revenge on Reddick, the two-race winner and qualifier with Team #8. Childress said Bosch will drive a Reddick next season, with Reddick’s crew chief, and stick Reddick in a third Chevrolet that didn’t exist yet to end his contract.

Of course, that’s only if Childress isn’t looking to buy a Toyota or 23XI deal to acquire Reddick a year earlier than planned. 23XI has two cars, but Kurt Bosch has been sidelined with a concussion since July and his return is uncertain. Hamlin said 23XI is planning the return of Kurt Bosch next season and a contingency plan that does not include Reddick is already in place.

Riddick’s feelings don’t hurt.

“I looked at it from a business point of view. They look to the future and what will be the best in the long run,” Riddick said. “I’m sure I can understand how people might think it’s subjective, but I don’t look at it that way. In the long run from the RCR, it makes sense to put it in an 8″ car.

When it all comes down to it, the credit for signing Bosch falls to Austin Dillon, the grandson of Childress and driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet. It was Dillon who told his grandfather to put the 2011 fight with Busch in the past and focus on what Busch could bring to RCR in the future.

“It was about what is the future of responsible implementation of research and where do we go from here?,” said Dillon, who believes Bush could “raise your side of competition off the bat, in my opinion, there was one man in free agency anyone would want to be.” And he’s moving the needle when it comes to marketing. He really does. He has a huge fan base.

“When it comes to Kyle, he wants to go fast and win races. The people in our shop are really excited to have a guy with some kind of experience. We want to get the NC State racing team to compete at the top every week and be seen as a competitor. We are on an upward trajectory, So we need to continue that.”

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