Gibbs doesn't rule out move to another manufacturer

Updated: June 17, 2007, 7:56 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN,com

BROOKLYN, Mich. -- How about Kyle Busch in a Toyota Camry at Joe Gibbs Racing next season?

It might be a long shot, but one or both scenarios could happen.

JGR's contract with General Motors, as for all Chevrolet teams, expires after this season. Team president J.D. Gibbs didn't rule out looking at another manufacturer such as Toyota.

We've been a partner with [GM] for 16 years. We're going to look at it and evaluate and make sure we're on the same page.

J.D. Gibbs

"For us, we're in the same boat as all of the GM guys," Gibbs said before Sunday's Nextel Cup race at Michigan International Speedway. "We wanted to wait and see what happened with the [Dale Earnhardt] Jr. deal and then ... sit down and evaluate.

"We've been a partner with [GM] for 16 years. We're going to look at it and evaluate and make sure we're on the same page."

Gibbs was one of the three teams Earnhardt considered before announcing Wednesday that he would drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2008.

Asked whether Toyota was a possibility for his organization, Gibbs said, "I think they have probably talked to a number of different groups. We just want to make sure, as the sport changes, how do we stay where we need to be at JGR to stay ahead of the curve?

"And a big part is manufacturer."

Lee White, the senior vice president of Toyota Racing Development, isn't optimistic any of the GM teams will move to another manufacturer even though the company might be more strapped for money with several organizations looking to add another team.

"They've been there for a long time," he said. "Frankly, capacity-wise, we're pretty well strapped right now."

Gibbs declined to comment on JGR's interest in Busch, who will be replaced by Earnhardt. But the agent of the 22-year-old driver said he has heard from JGR and almost every other team in the garage outside of Roush Racing.

JGR definitely would fit a big part of Busch's criteria.

"He wants to go to a team that can help him win a championship," said Busch's agent, Jeff Dickerson. "He looks up to [two-time champion] Tony Stewart. To him, it's about trophies."

Dickerson said Busch likely won't start meeting with teams for another week. Every owner from Richard Childress to Chip Ganassi to Michael Waltrip has expressed an interest.

"Obviously, I would like to have him drive for me," Waltrip said. "I think he's incredibly talented. We'd make room for him if he'd come over. If he can't find any work, we'll take him."

Max Siegel, the president of global operations at Dale Earnhardt Inc., said Busch is at the top of the list to replace Earnhardt.

Although Gibbs wouldn't discuss his interest in Busch, he did acknowledge having had talks with driver J.J. Yeley about his future with the organization had Earnhardt become an option for the company.

He said one option would be to add a fourth team even though he has said several times over the past month that the company wasn't ready to add another team.

He said, she said
Busch said his former agent, Alan Miller, did not tell him about offers from other teams or tell him he was using them in negotiations to extend his deal at Hendrick Motorsports.

HMS owner Rick Hendrick said he never discussed those offers with Busch.

"I just negotiate with the guys that negotiate with me," he said. "Kyle never told me [he had offers], but we never talked about the contracts other than we wanted to do it. The rest of it was handled by his agent."

Asked whether he assumed Busch knew about the offers, Hendrick said, "You would think so, wouldn't you?"

Kenseth lap streak over
Matt Kenseth was the only Cup driver to complete every lap this season until he was involved in a seven-car wreck on Lap 76.

"We do the best we can," Kenseth said. "They build reliable equipment and we try to keep our nose clean the best we can but, heck, you can't stay out of all of them."

Pit stops
White said Toyota is committed to its long-term deal with Waltrip Racing. ... Childress said RCR is close to finalizing a deal that would extend Jeff Burton's contract and secure AT&T as his sponsor.

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.

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