Key detail left out of Kyle Busch’s announcement

There was one key detail missing from Richard Childress Racing’s announcement that Kyle Busch will join the team for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Kyle Busch confirmed on Tuesday that he is set to join Richard Childress Racing for the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season and pilot the #8 Chevrolet, which has been driven by Tyler Reddick since 2020.

Richard Childress Racing runs a two-car team, with Reddick behind the wheel of the #8 Chevrolet and Austin Dillon, team owner Richard Childress’s grandson, behind the wheel of the #3 Chevrolet.

With both Reddick and Dillon being under contract through 2023, the addition of Busch raised some eyebrows.

It was no secret that Childress wasn’t pleased when Reddick announced in July that he had signed with 23XI Racing and Toyota for the 2024 season. It was this announcement which ultimately led the team to pursue Busch, whom they were shocked to see still hadn’t signed a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing.

The team said that they had acquired a third charter to keep Reddick in a third entry next year before he ultimately moves to 23XI Racing.

There was one thing missing, however: where did they get the third charter?

While teams aren’t obliged to share this information when an acquisition occurs, that news always ends up getting out later anyway because of how the 36-charter system works.

When asked about Reddick’s future with the team beyond 2022, Childress didn’t necessarily seem convinced.

Given Childress’s tone, there are some who believe that the team is bluffing by revealing that they have acquired a third charter for 2023 and that they haven’t actually done so.

The motive behind this would be trying to force a more expensive contract buyout that would send Reddick to 23XI Racing a year early.

But even that isn’t a sure thing, since Kurt Busch still wants to return and 23XI Racing only has two cars. While 23XI Racing themselves are reportedly in the market for a third charter, they never signed Reddick with the intention of him joining the team any earlier than 2024.

And even in the event that Busch does not return, team co-owner Denny Hamlin has said that they have a contingency plan in place that does not involve Reddick.

That leads us to several other questions.

Again, if Richard Childress Racing truly did acquire a third charter, from whom did they acquire it? If not, would they still run Reddick in a third non-chartered entry? And if not, would he end up in sort of a “stopgap” destination for a “lame duck” 2023 season with a Richard Childress Racing-affiliated team, or would an early Toyota move (and not to 23XI Racing…) be possible?

If indeed Richard Childress Racing do have a third charter, is it part of a long-term plan to expand to three cars? Would they really acquire a third charter just for one year, especially for a driver with whom they remain displeased? If they do plan to run three entries not just in 2023 but beyond, who ultimately becomes Reddick’s true replacement in 2024?

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