During his post-race question and answer session, Kyle Busch dropped a few bombshells that have shed light on the realities of the NASCAR Nationwide Series. He confirmed that not only would he be shutting down his team, but that Joe Gibbs Racing and Turner Scott Motorsports would be shutting down teams.
“There’s absolutely no funding in this world. It really, really sucks. That’s why we’re open and in business. But when the economy turns, Joe Gibbs Racing shut my team down this off-season, Turner Scott Motorsports is shutting down Nationwide teams this year. It’s not due to lack of hard work, that’s for sure,” said Busch.
His own team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, had been in doubt since they haven’t had much funding all year long for driver Parker Kligerman. While it had logos on the car, it was mostly of manufacturer Toyota putting their decals on the car.
It was surprising considering the 23-year old rookie Kligerman had a great year. At Saturday’s Ford 300 from the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Kligerman got his 13th top-10 finish of the year and brought himself home ninth in the final standings. While he lost out on the Rookie of the Year title to Kyle Larson, it was still a great year for the team.
“We were hoping to be able to get by the 32 (Kyle Larson) for eighth in points — we had a Camry that was capable of that, I just got into the wall a couple times and weren’t able to get up there,” Kligerman said. “Have to thank everyone involved this season – Toyota, Bandit Chippers, North American Power, Bolle, Bell Helmets, Nationwide Insurance, Kyle, Samantha and everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports for this huge opportunity. We put in a hard-fought year – everyone on this No. 77 team did the best they could all year long. It definitely wasn’t for a lack of effort that we weren’t able get up to eighth in points.”
Joe Gibbs Racing shutting down a team was alluded to before the start of the ESPN broadcast of the Ford 300 as a picture of the #18 team was tweeted with the caption stating they would not be together next season. The JGR organization had fielded up to four cars in various races, including Saturday’s, but the realities of sponsorship dollars not being there caught up to them. Nothing formal has been announced for next season, but it expected that Elliott Sadler would return in the #11 Toyota with OneMain Financial back on board. Beyond that, it is anyone’s guess.
For Turner Scott Motorsports they have fielded, like JGR, up to four teams in various races. It is expected that Justin Allgaier will move to the Sprint Cup Series and Kyle Larson will drive for the team like he did this year while competing for the Rookie of the Year title in the Sprint Cup Series. Plans for their third full-time driver Nelson Piquet, Jr. have not been announced.
While cutting its Nationwide Series program, Kyle Busch Motorsports will still field trucks in the Cmaping World Truck Series. Darrell Wallace, Jr. will return in the #54 Toyota, while owner Kyle Busch will split time with Erik Jones in the #51 Toyota. That means Joey Coulter will be let go as the organization downsides to only two trucks next season.