NASCAR at Talladega: Officials discuss Kyle Busch Motorsports’ sale to Spire

When Kyle Busch started his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team, he remembers getting a phone call from Daniel Suarez every Thursday at 2 p.m., where the young driver would excitedly ask his owner for advice about the tracks at which he was racing.

It was announced Wednesday that the 38-year-old driver has sold Kyle Busch Motorsports to Spire Motorsports. Busch, the 2015 and 2019 Cup Series champion, said Saturday that he will remain involved with Spire, continuing to serve as a consultant and run in five truck races.

“I didn’t necessarily start KBM as sort of a fun venture for me to run truck races — although it was, but back in that day you could run as many as you wanted,” Busch told reporters at a press conference in the Talladega media center. “It was really, really fun to help those guys and get those guys to where they are. … I’m looking forward to whoever’s next in the pipeline.”

A number of drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs, which continue with Sunday’s race at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, cut their teeth racing for KBM. Seeing the role he played with up-and-coming drivers like William Byron, Christopher Bell and Bubba Wallace, Busch knew he wanted to stay involved.

KBM, which holds Truck Series records for most wins (100) and most single-season wins (14, in 2014), has been one of the most successful teams in NASCAR. So, why sell it now?

On Sept. 16, The Athletic reported that Spire Motorsports purchased single-car Cup team Live Fast Motorsports’ charter for $40 million, citing sources briefed on the situation but not authorized to speak publicly.

“We’re a major-league sport. We’ve been around for 75 years. We portray ourselves to corporate America like we’re major league — and we are a major league,” said Spire co-owner and CEO Jeff Dickerson, who declined to confirm reports about the seven-figure number. “That number that’s been reported, I don’t know why it’s such a shock.

“It’s like a major-league sport with a minor-league question. You know what I mean? This is a real deal. I hope it’s $400 million.”

The deal includes a 77,000-square foot facility and will move Spire’s shop from Concord to Mooresville. Busch said he felt he hadn’t been able to give KBM as much attention as it needed, between his own racing career and spending more time with family, and eventually Dickerson “showed up at the door.”

Back in 2013, Bubba Wallace remembers Busch being the “one to beat.” Wallace would ask him how he did certain things, and Busch would have particularly simple and encouraging messages to younger drivers.

After Wallace won at Martinsville as a 20-year-old, becoming the second Black driver to win a NASCAR race, he remembers sitting down with Busch. He told him that if he hadn’t won at Martinsville, he’d be out, and Wallace’s response was simple: Well, we won, so let’s do that again.

“Got paid! Good for him,” Wallace said. “We obviously know how Kyle is, but you can take and appreciate some of that just pushing to be the absolute best. It may come off as being a jerk or being an asshole at times, but I understand what he’s trying to do. At the end of the day, he’s helping a lot of people, but he’s racing for himself.”

Apr 23, 2023; Talladega, Alabama, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (8) celebrates on the finish line after an overtime win at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 23, 2023; Talladega, Alabama, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch (8) celebrates on the finish line after an overtime win at Talladega Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Vasha Hunt-USA TODAY Sports

Aric Almirola wins pole for Sunday’s race

Aric Almirola will lead the field to the green flag at Talladega Superspeedway in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series playoff race.

It’s the sixth pole of his career and his second of the season. For Almirola, this kind of accomplishment is a morale boost for his Stewart-Haas Racing team, particularly with how highly he thinks of his crew chief, Drew Blickensderfer.

“Drew’s a guy that would come in and take fast cars and make them faster,” Almirola said. “He’s very talented, and this shows it. Because you come to a race track like this where it’s very paired up and all the little details matter. You look at qualifying and how tight it is — it’s separated by thousandths of a second — which means that the details matter that much more.”

Almirola’s qualifying time was 52.715 seconds. Joey Logano, who will start second, finished in 52.719 seconds. Chase Briscoe, Kyle Larson and Brad Keselowski round out the Top 5. The full qualifying order is here.

Last week at Texas, Kyle Busch crashed during Lap 73 and dropped to 12th in the playoff standings. The two-time Cup champion enters Sunday 17 points below the elimination line, looking to avoid his third first- or second-round exit in the past four years. He will start 25th, tied for his third-worst position of the season.