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M&M’s/Mars leaving Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing after the 2022 Cup season

M&Ms leaving Kyle Busch

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - OCTOBER 24: Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 M&M’s Halloween Toyota, waves to fans during pre-race ceremonies prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on October 24, 2021 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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Longtime sponsor M&M’s, which had been with Kyle Busch for two Cup championships, will be leaving NASCAR after the 2022 season - ending a partnership on the No. 18 Toyota that began in 2008 with Joe Gibbs Racing and Mars Inc., the brand’s parent company.

“I have been incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to represent Mars for nearly 15 years now,” Kyle Busch said in a statement (and also tweeted about the exit). “During this time, Mars Associates have been like family to myself, Samantha, and Brexton. In particular, my friendship with the Mars Family will be something that will last a lifetime. We have a relationship so much deeper than just having the honor of driving their colorful cars.

“I’m also proud that we’ve been able to bring them to victory lane 55 times in the Cup Series, including two Cup Series championships. I know our (No.) 18 team will work as hard as ever to bring them to victory lane as many times as we can in 2022 and hopefully even another championship we can celebrate together.”

“One of the great things I love about NASCAR is the opportunity to build meaningful relationships,” team owner Joe Gibbs said in a statement. “Mars has been a tremendous example of that. We have experienced so much together over the past 15 years, including two Cup Series championships, while developing friendships that will extend well beyond next year.

“I know everyone at Joe Gibbs Racing feels that way and I’m glad we have the 2022 season to celebrate Mars and the contributions they have made to our sport over the past three decades.”

The news was first reported by Sports Business Journal from a Monday morning interview with JGR president Dave Alpern, who said the team is optimistic about finding a replacement. Alpern added that Busch’s future at JGR is unchanged and said “Kyle is a huge part of our company and will be a huge part of our company.”

Alpern said Mars “wants to try some new things -- and no matter how big a brand is, they have a finite budget, so when you want to try something new, it has to come from somewhere else.”

Mars informed JGR of its decision last summer shortly before the Cup playoffs began.

“I don’t view it as a diminishing return or the deal wasn’t working; they just want to try some new things,” Alpern told SBJ. “If you had told me in 2007, when we started talking to (Mars) the 2008 season, that they’ll be a 15-year primary sponsor and lead the most laps and win the most races of any sponsor/driver combination for that time, we all would have taken it and run with it.”

Busch delivered the first Cup title for M&Ms/Mars in 2015, prompting a tribute from the sponsor.