Toyota Racing Development chief David Wilson says that the manufacturer worked hard to keep Kyle Busch in the fold before ultimately losing out to Richard Childress Racing and Chevrolet.
“We have absolutely been right in the middle of it. I have been right in the middle of it,” Wilson (pictured above) told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Tuesday night of the negotiations with Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing. “We made a valiant effort to try and keep Kyle Busch in our family, and I’ll simply say that there were opportunities on the table for him to stay in a Toyota with our family, but ultimately, it takes two parties. It takes two to tango, as they say. Ultimately, we weren’t able to get it done, and Richard Childress and Chevrolet were.”
Busch formally announced his plans to join Richard Childress Racing beginning in 2023 Tuesday morning. To date, the two-time series champion, who has won 56 races driving for Gibbs and Toyota, will drive the No. 8 Chevrolet. It ends a 15-year partnership between the two sides.
The conversation came around to the familiar question of why Toyota didn’t fund Busch. Wilson responded this time by saying, “Well, you look at Toyota’s market cap today and why don’t we just buy all the teams and all the drivers, and we’ll win every week.
“There is a role that we play as a manufacturer in this sport, and it’s something that we have taken seriously since we turned the first wheel on a NASCAR track in a truck in 2004, and we’ve respected the role of a manufacturer, and the role isn’t to buy teams, to buy drivers.
“Now, you hear me as well say that we love to get our hands dirty and we’re not a quote-unquote sponsor. We’re racers, and we do get our hands dirty, and we are a part of all of these critical decisions, and we were a part of Kyle over the years. You look at the role that we played at Kyle Busch Motorsports.”
Toyota fully funded KBM with drivers and sponsors, using the organization as a talent pipeline through the NASCAR ranks. With those resources, KBM became a hot destination for young drivers as the most successful and dominant program in the Camping World Truck Series.
“I’ll forever be proud of the success that we shared with Kyle and Kyle Busch Motorsports,” Wilson said. “That could not have happened without Toyota and the support that we brought to the table every year. So, it’s a tough situation but again, as a manufacturer in the sport, we’re always going to [carry] ourselves in a respectful manner. That’s worked out for us over the years, and I’m proud overall of all of that.”
Busch is Toyota’s most successful driver. In addition to his 56 wins in the NASCAR Cup Series, Busch earned the manufacturer their first NASCAR Cup Series championship in 2015. He added a second in 2019. Overall, Busch has won over 200 races driving a Toyota-backed car.
“I’m not going to minimize what happened today or make light of it [and] it’s tough to because candidly, it’s a sad day for Team Toyota,” said Wilson. “Certainly, we are disappointed that we’re not going forward. You look back over the past 15 years, and you look at what we did together, we’ve had so many moments with Kyle Busch, and they will be a part of our shared legacy for all time. What’s the saying? A moment lasts for seconds, but memories last forever.
“Right now, what we’re going to do is celebrate those memories and just as we said in our statement that we wish nothing but the best for Kyle, Samantha, and their family. I’m just happy he’s landed on his feet with a terrific organization like Richard Childress Racing. I’ve already traded notes with Richard earlier and congratulated him and wished him and the team well.”