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Don’t rule out Nationwide title defence for Busch

Kyle Busch could yet return to the NASCAR Nationwide Series to go for a second straight title in 2010
Don't be too quick to write Kyle Busch out of the Nationwide Series title picture next year.

No, Busch hasn't announced he'll defend his championship next year, but Busch indicated over lunch last week in Miami Beach there might be a scenario under which he would try for a second title.

As it stands now, Busch intends to run all the Nationwide races that are companion events to Sprint Cup events in 2010. His schedule also may include a few stand-alone Nationwide events during off-weeks for Cup.

“I think 24 to 27 (races) is what we're planning,” Busch said. “The races haven't been quite all worked out yet.”

Whatever the final number, Busch has to run the bulk of the Nationwide schedule in his #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to keep sponsors interested in the programme.

“We're going to do a combination next year where Kyle's going to run, (and) we're going to split that car up some,” JGR president J.D. Gibbs said. “We love being on the Nationwide side, because it allows you to bring in young guys. Whether its crew guys, pit crews, drivers — we've got (driver) Matt DiBenedetto next year for sure and one other young guy, and it gives them an opportunity.

“The reality is, though, the young guys you can't sell for what you need to run those cars for. If you can do it and still give them a handful of races and value long term, then I think it really pays off. We've seen it with Denny (Hamlin) — Kyle got it when he ran Nationwide. We saw it with Joey (Logano) and Tony Stewart when he first got here, so it's a big value to that Nationwide programme.”

The drawing card to sponsors, however, is a marquee Cup driver.

“I bring the talent and the sponsors come with,” Busch quipped.

Busch also admitted that how well he starts the season may factor into whether he lobbies Gibbs to run the full Nationwide schedule. Eleven of the first twelve Nationwide races are companion events. The fifth race of the season, at Nashville, is scheduled for April 3, an open week for the Cup series.

“It might get hairy there early,” Busch said after asking where Nashville fell on the schedule. “I don't know how many races I'm running at the beginning of the year to determine whether we try to go for it again, but I know it's not all sold (to sponsors).”

Whether Busch runs the Nashville race might not matter. He finished the 2009 season with more than a one-race cushion over series runner-up Carl Edwards. Busch won ten Nationwide races in 2008 and another nine this year. In securing his first championship in one of NASCAR's top three touring divisions, he also finished second eleven times, a single-season record.

Crunch time for a possible championship run will come with the 13th race, a return trip to Nashville that starts a string of three non-companion events that continues at Kentucky and Milwaukee. The second Nashville race is scheduled for June 5.

Asked whether there might be circumstances under which he would defend his title, Busch nodded.

Gibbs shook his head emphatically, indicating, “No.”

“I'll talk him into it,” Busch said.

by Reid Spencer/Sporting News



Related Pictures

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Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Z-Line Designs Toyota, celebrates after winning the NASCAR Nationwide Series championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday in Homestead, Fla. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS stops in the pits on his way to his win Sunday, March 1, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS races to victory Sunday, March 1, 2015 in the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory with a burnout Sunday, March 1, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by Andrew Coppley/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS celebrates his victory Sunday, March 1, 2015 after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo by HHP/Harold Hinson for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A large incident occurs in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Moore/Getty Images)
Austin Dillon, driver of the #3 Dow Chevrolet, spins out after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, leads the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, and Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Ground Toyota, lead the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 1, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Fisher Nuts/Menards Toyota, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Ben Kennedy, driver of the #11 Local Motors Toyota, leads the field to the green flag to start the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Hyundai Construction Equipment 200 on February 28, 2015 in Hampton, Georgia.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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