How Would Kyle Busch Have Fared in NASCAR if He Stayed With Hendrick Motorsports?

Published 12/20/2020, 11:50 AM EST
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota, stands on the grid prior to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)


Kyle Busch has been fairly successful in his NASCAR career, especially with Joe Gibbs Racing. However, in the early part of his NASCAR career, he used to race for the Hendrick Motorsports team. From 2008 onwards, he moved to JGR and the rest is history.

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However, one has to wonder, what if he was still in the Hendrick Motorsports stable? For one, the team would have boasted of the most star-studded line-up in NASCAR history. Imagine Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Kyle Busch as teammates.

As it turns out, Rick Hendrick took notice of the driver when he was just 18 years old. At the time, he was recruited to join the team in the Xfinity division in 2003, where he made a mark right off the bat with five wins in the series. Before long, he was nearly ready for the big step up.

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When did Kyle Busch start racing for Hendrick Motorsports?

In 2005, Terry Labonte was on the verge of announcing his retirement. Instead, he opted to run on a part-time schedule, freeing up space in the no. 5 car. Needless to say, Busch burst onto the scene in spectacular fashion and took two wins in his debut season.

However, Busch’s contract was soon up for renewal at the end of the 2007 season, and at the same time, Dale Earnhardt Jr was set to part ways with his family team.

So, when offered a choice between Busch and one of the biggest names in NASCAR in Dale Jr., HMS swung towards Earnhardt Jr. As a result, Kyle Busch joined Joe Gibbs Racing and never looked back since.

HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA – NOVEMBER 17: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Toyota poses with the trophy after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship at Homestead Speedway on November in Homestead, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

In an alternate universe, what if Hendrick Motorsports had space for both drivers? Had things worked out in a certain manner, the HMS stable would have consisted of the deadliest line-up.

Without a doubt, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, and Kyle Busch would have been the ‘New York Yankees’ of NASCAR.

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However, this would have had other ramifications, namely denying Mark Martin a chance of a comeback. Similarly, Kasey Kahne would have never won at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Additionally, Chase Elliott and William Byron’s rise to NASCAR could have been jeopardized, as Busch probably would have won more championships and stayed with the team for a long time.

However, he would have spoiled Jimmie Johnson’s run to glory and history. Furthermore, how would his win tally change with Hendrick Motorsports?

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Dhruv George

11663 articles

Dhruv George is a senior Formula One and NASCAR analyst for EssentiallySports, having authored nearly 12000 articles spanning different sports like F1, NASCAR, Tennis, NFL, and eSports. He graduated with a PG Diploma in Journalism from the Xavier Institute of Communications. Dhruv has also conducted interviews with F1 driver Pierre Gasly and Moto2 rider Tony Arbolino.

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