As part of its plan to expand to a two-car NASCAR Cup Series organization for 2022, 23XI Racing, co-owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin, has announced the addition of Kurt Busch. Busch will drive a #45 Toyota next season as teammate to Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., driver of the #23 23XI Toyota.
“I cannot begin to express my gratitude for this opportunity,” Busch said. “Racing to win is what I live for. Helping to continue developing a new team, alongside Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin, and Toyota is exactly what I want to be part of. Winning is important to 23XI, it’s important to Monster Energy, and it’s important to me. That is our goal.”
Busch’s car number is reflective of the number on Jordan’s jersey when he returned to the Chicago Bulls after a brief retirement.
The team has yet to reveal whether a charter has or will be obtained through a lease or sale for the #45. A charter guarantees race starting positions.
Busch will finish the 2021 season as driver of the #1 Chevrolet at Chip Ganassi Racing. He will lose that gig that he has held since 2019 at the end of the season because of a sale of Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR assets to Trackhouse Racing.
Busch has a win, four top-fives and 10 top-10 finishes through 27 races, so far, in 2021 and is among the 16 drivers in the playoffs.
“When we started this team, our vision was to grow to a multi-car organization. To be able to expand in just our second year is a huge step for us,” Hamlin said. “Kurt brings a wealth of knowledge and a championship mindset to our team and will be able to help us grow stronger and more competitive each and every week.”
Busch has been a full-time Cup Series driver since 2001, also racing for teams including Roush Fenway Racing, Team Penske, Phoenix Racing, Furniture Row Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing. He won the 2004 Cup Series title with RFR. In 747-career races, he has 33 wins.