Kyle Bush still striving for success on the right track, a job for 2023

It didn’t look like much could go wrong this year for Kyle Busch until his engine blew out with 22 laps remaining in the opening race of NASCAR.

Bosch dominated the Darlington race circuit and led 155 laps of the race for what should have been a much-needed victory. He’s had a poor season and the 10-race qualifying period is likely to be the last days of his career with Joe Gibbs Racing.

The only active driver to hold multiple titles hasn’t been able to secure a new contract at Gibbs, having driven since 2008 and won two Cup titles while building Toyota’s most successful truck team. M&M Mars is leaving NASCAR at the end of the year and JGR has been unable to find a replacement sponsor for Busch, who offered to drive below market value to seal a deal.

And so this year was already lousy before his engine blew out on Sunday night while driving under caution. Instead of a win that would have automatically propelled him into the second round, Bosch finished 30th and remained 11th in the qualifying standings.

Bush has been on a bit of a publicity stunt in what appears to be an effort to show he can be stylish, so he treated Darlington’s disappointment with dignity in his live TV interview. He praised his team for “all the things the guys have done and been through, just all the news and all that’s been going on all year, they’ve dug into it and never given up.”

When asked how he was feeling, he gave a faint smile: “I don’t know. The sun will rise tomorrow.”

The next race comes on Sunday at Kansas Speedway, where Bosch finished third in the spring on a dominant day for Toyota. His older brother Kurt won the race while his JGR teammates Denny Hamlin, Christopher Bell and Martin Truex Jr. finished fourth to sixth while Toyotas took five of the top six. Bubba Wallace ranked 10th in Toyota’s only other car.