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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)
Daniel Suarez, driver of the #18 ARRIS Toyota, leads a pack of cars during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, poses in victory lane with his crew chief Greg Erwin after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #20 GameStop Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, lead the field through the green flag to start the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Sarah Glenn/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Erik Jones, driver of the #20 GameStop Toyota, and Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Discount Tire Ford, lead the field past the green flag to start the NASCAR XFINITY Series Drive To Stop Diabetes 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 18, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Dollar General Toyota, celebrates with the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole position for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, races during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 3M Chevrolet, talks to his crew chief, Alan Gustafson, on the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #19 Comcast Business Toyota, sits in his car during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 17, 2015 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Paul Menard, driver of the #27 Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet SS, qualifies for ninth position Friday, April 17, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Menard is 16th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kasey Kahne, driver of the #5 Great Clips Chevrolet SS, qualifies for eighth position Friday, April 17, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Kahne is fifth in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS, qualifies for seventh position Friday, April 17, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Busch is 21st in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Jimmy John’s/Budweiser Chevrolet SS, qualifies for fourth position Friday, April 17, 2015 for Sunday`s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. Harvick leads the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) standings. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kurt Busch, driver of the #41 Haas Automation Chevrolet, and Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser/Jimmy John`s Chevrolet, lead the field to the green flag for the running of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 11, 2015 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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