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Yeley to vacate 18 car; Busch expected to hop in

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- While Kyle Busch would not confirm reports that he has a deal to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008, it became clearer that is the case when J.J. Yeley acknowledged he is out of the No. 18 car Busch is expected to drive.

Multiple sources confirmed for ESPN.com this week that Busch will drive for Gibbs, and a news conference likely is scheduled for early next week. Yeley said he's leaving JGR but wouldn't go as far as to say Busch would be his replacement.

Speculation that JGR is leaving General Motors for Toyota increased.

The Silly Season of NASCAR was indeed silly on Friday at Watkins Glen International.

Busch's future became clear on Monday when sources told ESPN.com that he chose JGR over Chip Ganassi Racing, Dale Earnhardt Inc., Evernham Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing.

It was verified that Busch already told the other teams bidding for him that he was going somewhere else.

Busch would only say nothing has been signed.

"Well, I have a preference, or my No. 1, but that's about it,'' Busch said on a rain-marred day. "For all the options that were out there, there's plenty of great chances, plenty of great opportunities, but the one that I felt most good to me is … still not done.

"We're trying to solidify our plans and get everything squared away.''

Yeley is doing the same thing. He acknowledged having talked to officials at DEI, RCR, Robert Yates Racing and the Wood Brothers, but wouldn't elaborate on how serious they are.

RCR owner Richard Childress said Yeley is a serious prospect to be his fourth driver.

"J.J.'s a good racer," he said. "He'd do a good job."

Ganassi Racing, Hall of Fame Racing and Evernham Motorsports also could be in the mix.

Yeley hopes wherever he lands the owner will give him more support than he got at JGR this season.

"We never made huge changes to see if there was something out there that was going to help the program,'' he said.

Yeley asked team president J.D. Gibbs a month ago if he was considering changes to bring the No. 18 up to par with the teams of Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin.

"[He said] there were not going to be any changes,'' Yeley said.

There could be plenty of changes for that team next season, from the switch to Busch to possibly a change in manufacturer and primary sponsor.

"I think they're going to do everything that's in their best interest that they feel is right, and you know if they feel Chevrolet is their manufacturer of choice then more power to them,'' Busch said. "If they feel like Ford, Toyota or Dodge is their best interest, then more power to them.

"You know, they've got their own engine program, they've got a lot of great resources. I think they're still in that decision-making process. They're looking at all of the cars, laying them out. Just as I was to pick a team, they're doing it for a manufacturer.''

David Newton covers motorsports for ESPN.com.