By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
CONCORD, N.C. – The 2017 driver line-up at Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) is beginning to take shape. Earlier this year, Hendrick Motorsports announced that current KBM driver and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader, William Byron, would move up to the Xfinity Series with JR Motorsports.
In 2016, Byron filled a void by out-going 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Champion and Rookie of the Year Erik Jones. Now, the cycle will repeat again as Byron, one of the favorites for the 2016 Truck Series Championship will leave a void at KBM.
Kyle Busch was happy to give his thoughts on what he looks for in a driver.
“We look for a few things, but we’ve got Christopher Bell next year already lined up,” Busch said.
“We’ve got another driver kind of in the works and then we’ll keep our 51 team as driver of the week program. I think we’re close to being able to finish some things up and being able to put all that out there. We’ve talked to a few guys about the opportunity to drive full-time in the – we’ll call it the 9.
“It’ll probably change for next year, but William’s done a fantastic job and so it’s going to be tough for anyone to come into that role and fill that void. Obviously Erik did a really good job the year before. I think William’s actually exceeded those expectations quite well, so maybe the next guy will be able to do the same thing. We’ll see.”
As an organization, KBM has accumulated one Driver’s Championship, 26 pole positions, 54 victories between eight drivers, 128 top fives, and 198 Top 10s. 27 drivers competed in the Truck Series for KBM since it’s inception in 2010.
This season, KBM has scored nine victories, six by Byron, two by Busch, and one by Bell. Also, four drivers, Cody Coughlin, Daniel Suarez, Jones, and Gary Klutt have competed in the KBM No. 51 ‘Driver of the Week’ Toyota Tundra.
With Bell’s return confirmed, and the No. 51’s continuation the ‘Driver of the Week’ program, KBM looks to have a solid footing heading into the 2017 Truck Series season. With the history KBM has had recently of grooming young, up-and-coming talent, the future for both it and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series looks bright for some time to come.