With sunset approaching in Phoenix, the decision over Kyle Busch's fate for this weekend – and beyond – has yet to be officially made public.
But two sources confirmed to SB Nation that Busch would drive Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 car after all this weekend – except with sponsorship from Interstate Batteries instead of M&M's.
The Interstate Batteries sponsorship was first reported by ESPN's Marty Smith on Thursday afternoon.
Joe Gibbs Racing and its sponsors had wrestled with what to do about Busch for much of the week and continued to do so throughout the day on Thursday. As the deadline approaches – that being Sprint Cup Series practice on Friday at Phoenix International Raceway – the team has yet to officially announce what will happen to Busch.
Mars Inc., which owns M&M's, is said to have had enough of Busch's shenanigans, with his suspension from last week's intentional crash of Ron Hornaday in the Texas trucks race as the final straw.
A source told SB Nation that Nationwide Series driver Aric Almirola was contacted Wednesday and put on standby to drive the No. 18 Sprint Cup Series car this weekend – a fact Almirola confirmed to ESPN.com on Thursday. But Almirola told the website he had yet to hear from Joe Gibbs Racing on whether or not he would race.
Late Thursday afternoon, it turned out he wouldn't.
Interstate Batteries owner Norm Miller has a close relationship with both team owner Joe Gibbs and Busch, and apparently a deal was struck to let M&M's out of the final two races and put Interstate on the car instead.
A representative for Busch had no comment on the Interstate Batteries report. Joe Gibbs Racing did not respond to a request for comment.
The Associated Press reported earlier Thursday that another of Busch's sponsors, Z-Line Designs, asked JGR to replace Busch with Denny Hamlin in the Homestead Nationwide Series race next week. Busch was not scheduled to drive the Nationwide Series race at Phoenix.
On Tuesday, when NASCAR issued a $50,000 fine and put Busch on probation for the remainder of the season, it seemed the controversial driver would be cleared to race at Phoenix and Homestead.
But that apparently wasn't enough for M&M's, which had previously released a statement expressing its displeasure with Busch's actions.
Even if Busch races this weekend, plenty of unanswered questions remain.
Is this the end of Busch's relationship with Mars, or is the sponsor just trying to send a message? Will Mars use Busch's suspension to get out of its deal with JGR altogether and leave the team? And will Busch even keep his job at JGR next season?
The most immediate question for now, though, is: When will Joe Gibbs Racing confirm Busch is racing at Phoenix this weekend?