The untold story of Kyle Busch’s Gibbs NASCAR final decade

In life as a motorsport journalist, you have to work hard in various pastures around the world to get shovels and inner leash to stay in the know better than your opponents. But, sometimes, stories really fall into your lap. And here’s one that hasn’t been fully told before…

It’s race day morning at Daytona International Speedway on February 17, 2019, and I’ve already had a chat with Denny Hamlin (who will go on to win the Daytona 500 later that day) and NASCAR innovation guru John Probst, who has given me some great background information on what It was called “Gen-7” at the time and later turned into the next generation car.

So excited myself, I accepted an offer for a brunch at the Toyota booth – I was an invited guest this weekend – and pulled a quick story out of my own Hamlin quotes before preparing myself to deliver a live transcript of the race from the best seats in the house later than that. today.

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M Chocolate Bar

Photo by: Logan Whitton/NKP/Motorsport Images

The suite – ‘France 601’ located at the top right of the main guesthouse in Daytona that you can see in the photo above – was already packed to Toyota dealers and suppliers when we got a guest appearance from its other distinguished driver from Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch.

Today’s Toyota CEO, whose name I won’t name to save any blushing, really fancied himself as the master of ceremonies and invited Kyle to the makeshift stage in front for some pre-race banter. I turned on my recorder, just in case nothing useful was said – here’s what happened…

“Today is a new day, it’s a sunny day, a bright day, an exciting day,” said Bush excitedly, clearly in a great mood. “I woke up on the right side of the bed this morning!”

We were about to find out why — but not before he told us the tale of his sprained ankle earlier that week after he was “bounced twice by a seven-year-old on a trampoline” and joked that he might have liked Jimmy Johnson because he “didn’t even ask me Photo or signature!”

Kyle added, “I’m pretty sure there’s already an asterisk on my contract, written in ink, that says ‘no trampoline parks’ from now on.”

And here’s where it got interesting – I knew he was in the year of a contract renewal, with a lot of speculation about whether he’d go on at JGR, and suddenly a big cat was about to get out of the bag…

“Talk about it,” Toyota exec says. “We had a small reception for Gibbs on the roof of Hard Rock last night, we had a little party there to celebrate something, want to tell everyone what’s going on in your relationship with Gibbs?”

“I’m not supposed to do it, but the way to go!”

“Okay, I started it…”

“Okay, then, … it’s probably coming out next week, so if we can keep quiet — I’ve re-signed my deal with Gibbs and the Toyota family for the foreseeable future.” [big round of applause] It’s going to be good, and this year it’s about getting 200 wins in all three series and going for that tournament at Homestead.”

At this point, I glanced at a senior Toyota employee who had invited me, but he was staring at his shoes shaking his head in disbelief at what had just happened.

So now I’m in a very awkward place – a big deal has been confirmed, straight from the horse’s mouth. But now I felt like I had been invited to dinner when someone poured ketchup, and my choice now was whether to trample it on the host’s rug or not…

Kyle Bush hasn't told Fox Sports of his new contract with Joe Gibbs Racing

Kyle Bush hasn’t told Fox Sports of his new contract with Joe Gibbs Racing

Photo by: Logan Whitton/NKP/Motorsport Images

“I’ll make it easy for you,” I told my Toyota friend, who had a sore expression on his face. “I’m not going to write anything yet, but as soon as I see someone else do it, then I’ll do something.”

reluctantly agreed, as for him The senior chief’s lack of awareness of who was in the room was hardly his fault.

To my delight, some of the other invited reporters arrived at the pavilion shortly after Cale had left.

“Oh, guys,” I said, “you just missed Kyle Bush.”

Did he say anything interesting?

Nah.

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Camry lead the 2019 Daytona 500

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota Camry lead the 2019 Daytona 500

Photo by: Logan Whitton/NKP/Motorsport Images

It took another 10 days for the deal to be officially announced, and – true to my promise – I ran with a story about it just two days later when I saw a competitor suggest a deal was imminent…

Of course, Kyle went on to win the championship that year – so it will be fun to see if he can repeat this feat moving forward with RCR!

The script made me remember some wise words I will never forget from the late great Robin Miller on a transatlantic call as I approached midnight at the Autosport news desk on a press day. He told me, “As I see it, son, news is like a genie in a bottle. Once it’s out, it’s out. But, sometimes, you have to know which bottle to pick up, and most importantly, know when to rub it in.”

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Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M's #8: Tyler Riddick, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Guaranteed Rate

Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry M&M’s #8: Tyler Riddick, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Camaro Guaranteed Rate

Photo by: Leslie Ann Miller/Sports Pictures

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