Busch confirms Gibbs' move to Toyota; announcement expected Wed.
FONTANA, Calif. -- Kyle Busch said Joe Gibbs Racing called him this week to inform him they had decided to switch to Toyota next season.
Gibbs officials are expected to make a formal announcement Wednesday at team headquarters about the move from Chevrolet to Toyota.Busch said he knew JGR probably would make the switch to Toyota when he was negotiating his deal to join the organization next season. "I'm fine with it," Busch said. "The Gibbs people kept us in the loop every step of the way. I knew it was a possibility. They did what they felt was right and I think they are going in the right direction." Busch is leaving Hendrick Motorsports and replacing J.J. Yeley in the No. 18 JGR car next season. "The change really affects the crew chiefs and engineers more than the drivers," Busch said. "The motors are the biggest difference because all the cars [Car of Tomorrow models] are almost the same now."
JGR driver Denny Hamlin wasn't quite as optimistic about the change as his future teammate.
"Chevrolet has been great to us and we have a great relationship with them," Hamlin said. "They are the best out here. But no matter who our manufacturer is, Gibbs Racing is going to make it successful."
Tony Stewart, a two-time Cup champion for JGR, wouldn't say how he feels about the change.
"I'll worry about that when we get to that stage," Stewart said. "All I know is I'm supposed to be at the shop Wednesday at o-dark-30, so something big is happening."
Toyota's rookie season in Nextel Cup has been a struggle with three teams and seven cars. Toyota hasn't won a race and Camry drivers often have failed to qualify for events.Kurt Busch, Kyle's older brother, thinks all that will change next season. "You're talking about adding one of the elite teams in NASCAR," Kurt said. "Just those three drivers alone almost doubles what Toyota is capable of accomplishing." Elliott Sadler, who moved from Ford to Dodge when he left Robert Yates' team to sign with Ray Evernham in 2006, thinks the Gibbs switch will change the dynamics in the Cup garage. "This is a big shift," Sadler said. "A lot of things are going to change next year with this deal. Gibbs has so much depth. They will work with Toyota's people and get those engines up to speed quickly. And Toyota automatically has more cars in the top 35 to start next season." Teams ranked in the top 35 in owner's points at the end of this season have a guaranteed spot in the field for the first five races next year. Chevrolet drivers have won 17 of 24 races this season. But Hamlin said this move is all about looking toward the future. "Who is dominant now isn't the question," Hamlin said. "You have to think about who will be dominate down the road. That's how you have to look at it." Terry Blount covers motorsports for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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