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Nationwide move for Kyle Busch Motorsports
21 October 2011
Kyle Busch has announced that his eponymous team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, is to field a Nationwide Series entry in the 2012 season.
"KBM is transitioning into the Nationwide Series next year," Busch confirmed during media appearances for this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway. "We will race a full-funded team for the championship.
"It's a great opportunity for myself and for the Kyle Busch Motorsports organisation," he added. "It's a great day for us."
The team has been operating a full-time entry in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for the last two seasons, since Busch purchased the remaining assets of Xpress Motorsports from JB Scott at the end of 2009. Busch has taken the wheel of the #18 for much of the season, sharing the ride with Brian Ickler and Kasey Kahne.
The team also put together a one-race operation to enter Kimi Raikkonen in the Perky Jerky-sponsored #87 in the May Truck race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Raikkonen then appeared in the following week's Nationwide Series race at the same venue, but KBM had to scramble to put together a scratch operation by loaning a car from Joe Nemechek's NEMCO Motorsports outfit. At the time, Busch said that while he would like to move to Nationwide in the future, he was not able to do so at the time - even if Raikkonen had expressed an interest in a full-time ride at that level. If that had been the former F1 world champion's intention, he would need to look elsewhere for a team, Busch had said in May.
Busch has now confirmed that KBM has signed a full-season sponsor that will enable them to put a Toyota Camry out on track for the full 2012 Nationwide Series season. However, Busch declined to reveal the identity of the sponsor at this time, and also declined to say who will be driving the car - although he confirmed that he would take the wheel for at least some of the races, as well as running in the Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide team
“It's safe to assume I'll be running in some Nationwide races with Kyle Busch Motorsports,” agreed Busch. "I will also still commit to my current obligations that I have at JGR and run over there, too.
“Crew chiefs, sponsors, drivers: all that stuff will be announced later ... It's all pretty much done, it's just a matter of waiting until the time the sponsor wants to announce," he said. "Obviously it takes funding to do these deals, and we wouldn't be able to do it without the partner we acquired.
"We're ready and excited that the opportunity has finally come to move up ... We wanted to do that for a couple years now," he added. "This takes us to that next level."
It's welcome news for Nationwide Series organisers, who have seen two big sponsors (Dollar General and 5-Hour Energy) withdraw support for NNS teams in order to move their backing to Cup teams. Former series champion Carl Edwards has also announced that he will no longer be appearing in a nearly-full season and will be cutting back on his appearances from next season in order to concentrate on Cup competition in future, while Kevin Harvick has offloaded his Kevin Harvick Inc. Truck and Nationwide team in order to focus on Cup driving.
Busch doesn't agree that driving (and owning) cars in other series during Cup weekends is a distraction. "I don't think it hurts," he said. "My idea is to have a company that will run off the foundation of itself," he added, citing Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs as examples of owners who put in place the right people to manage the team day-to-day.
KBM will also continue to field the #18 in the Truck Series as well, having announced last week that the team will continue to receive financial backing from retail chain Dollar General for ten races of the season as part of their Cup-level deal with JGR. Busch had spoken earlier in the season of the difficulties of finding the necessary funding to operate a team in one of NASCAR's national championships.
"We will run trucks also," confirmed Busch. "We will keep the 18 truck going for the full season, next year. We're just a few races shy of being a full sponsorship on that deal."
NASCAR is hoping that there will be a greater level of interest in Nationwide next season, with Danica Patrick joining the series full time after departing from IndyCar and the addition of X-Games star Travis Pastrana to the field. Another new arrival to full time competition will be Richard Childress' grandson Austin Dillon, stepping up from Truck Series competition.
NASCAR unveiled the 33-race 2012 calendar this week, which confirmed the retention of the road course race in Montreal on the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve which had thought to be at risk. The season also features Nationwide's first appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as part of the weekend of events surrounding the Brickyard 400 Cup race in July.
"We're excited to bring the NASCAR Nationwide Series to the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway," said NASCAR's senior vice president of racing operations Steve O'Donnell. "From the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway to the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the 2012 schedule has a great mix of tracks that will continue to deliver great racing for our fans."
2012 Nationwide season
25 February - Daytona International Speedway
3 March - Phoenix International Raceway
10 March - Las Vegas Motor Speedway
17 March - Bristol Motor Speedway
24 March - Auto Club (Fontana, California) Speedway
13 April - Texas Motor Speedway
27 April - Richmond International Raceway
5 May - Talladega Superspeedway
11 May - Darlington Raceway
20 May - Iowa Speedway
26 May - Charlotte Motor Speedway
2 June - Dover International Speedway
16 June - Michigan International Speedway
23 June - Road America
29 June - Kentucky Speedway
6 July - Daytona International Speedway
14 July - New Hampshire Motor Speedway
22 July - Chicagoland Speedway
28 July - Indianapolis Motor Speedway
4 August - Iowa Speedway
11 August - Watkins Glen International
18 August - Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (Montreal)
24 August - Bristol Motor Speedway
1 September - Atlanta Motor Speedway
7 September - Richmond International Raceway
15 September - Chicagoland Speedway
22 September - Kentucky Speedway
29 September - Dover International Speedway
12 October - Charlotte Motor Speedway
20 October - Kansas Speedway
3 November - Texas Motor Speedway
10 November - Phoenix International Raceway
17 November - Homestead-Miami Speedway