NASCAR & Auto Racing

It's official: Kyle Busch joins Joe Gibbs Racing

Joe Gibbs Racing and Kyle Busch made it official Tuesday morning, announcing that Busch signed a three-year contract to join Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin in NASCAR's top series beginning with the 2008 season.

Busch will drive the No. 18, replacing J.J. Yeley as the driver on that team.

"It was an easy decision after looking at all of the prospects," said Busch, the 22-year-old who will complete this season as driver of the No. 5 Chevrolets at Hendrick Motorsports. "I don't feel like I have taken a step backward one bit."

Busch said the decision came down between the Gibbs team and Dale Earnhardt Inc.

It was Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s decision to leave DEI that set the whole process into motion earlier this year.

With Busch coming to the end of his contract at Hendrick Motorsports, that supplied the opening for team owner Rick Hendrick to sign Earnhardt Jr. to drive for his team. That made Busch the most attractive free agent on the driver market, and there was no lack of interest in hiring him. His agent said more than a dozen Cup teams expressed interest in acquiring Busch's services.

But Gibbs won out.

"We're extremely pleased to have Kyle Busch as a part of the family here at Joe Gibbs Racing," said J.D. Gibbs, president of JGR. "Kyle is extremely talented, as his track record has proven, and he had a lot of teams to choose from in determining who would give him the best chance to win."