- Last Updated on Monday, 26 November 2012 08:22
- Published on Tuesday, 15 December 2009 19:28
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We keep hearing news about how bad the economy is. Race teams are laying off employees and sponsor dollars are disappearing. Last year, when Tony Stewart announced he was leaving Joe Gibbs Racing to become part owner of Haas CNC Racing, a lot of people questioned the wisdom of the move in such bad economic times. However, Hass seemed to have no problem coming up with the additional funding needed to turn the perpetual back marker team into one that consistently ran up front.
The economy is still far from robust and shotgun mergers continue to be a tool for survival — witness the ongoing Richard Petty Motorsports-Yates Racing merger. Still, there seems to be funding available if you are a marquee name and have the right connections. Last week Kyle Busch became the latest top-tier driver to announce the formation of his own race team, Kyle Busch Motorsports.
In a press conference carried live on SPEED, Kyle Busch announced he will enter two Toyota Tundras full-time in the Camping World Truck Series in 2010. Busch will pilot the No. 18 Miccosukee Resort and Gaming Toyota Tundra whenever the truck series runs in companion with the Sprint Cup Series. For the non-companion races, the No. 18 truck will be driven by 24-year-old Brian Ickler. Running the full schedule for KBM will be 20-year-old Taylor Malsam in the No. 56 Toyota Tundra.
“Everyone knows how much I love to race, and the truck series is one of my favorite places to race, so to be a team owner in the series is a perfect match,” Busch said. He currently has 16 victories in the truck series, and a combined 62 wins among NASCAR’s top three divisions. “We started KBM two years ago with the late model program and this seemed like the next natural step. I’m also very pleased with our driver lineup, having young and talented guys like Taylor Malsam and Brian Ickler.”
Busch recently purchased the assets of Xpress Motorsports, the truck series team that won in June at Dover, and finished the 2009 season among the top 10 in points. KBM will operate from the former Xpress Motorsports shop in Mooresville, N.C., until its new shop, currently under construction is finished.
Overseeing the three-driver, two-truck team will be Rick Ren, who will serve as the team’s director of competition. The 52 year old from Tilton, Il., is a NASCAR veteran who won two truck series championships as crew chief for Ron Hornaday Jr. in 2007 and 2009, while at Kevin Harvick Inc.
“A person can work their whole career in any profession and not get an opportunity like this,” Ren said. “I’ve been involved in some other startup, ground floor programs, but not of this magnitude. It’s a great opportunity for me and everyone who will get to be a part of Kyle Busch Motorsports. There have been great racecar drivers, but Kyle has the opportunity to be one of the all-time greats. Getting the chance to help a guy like that who has a dream of building his own race team is an honor.”
“Rick Ren is an important part of what we’re trying to build at Kyle Busch Motorsports,” Busch said. “Rick has won multiple championships as a crew chief and is the perfect person to lead this race team and build it into an organization capable of winning races and contending for championships. His record speaks for itself, and in order for me to take on a team ownership role in the truck series, it is important to have the right people in place to make this work. Having Rick on board is a great first step in that process. It’s no secret how much I want to win as a driver, and I want to win as a team owner just as badly.”
As you might expect Busch is getting major backing from Toyota. Lee White, Toyota Racing Development president and general manager, was on hand for the press conference and said, “We are excited to welcome Kyle Busch Motorsports to the Toyota racing family. Kyle has demonstrated his passion for the sport through his determination and will to win on the race track. Creating this team is another big step forward in his racing career.”