Before the 2021 season it was announced that Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan would join forces and start a NASCAR Cup Series team called 23XI racing, a name driven by both legendary athletes’ numbers and the numbers they made famous in their careers. The team would sign Bubba Wallace to drive the #23 cars for the season with most of his sponsors he has built along his career riding with him despite him changing teams. From the beginning it was known that Bubba would not be the only driver for the team as blueprints for team headquarters leaked shortly after their announcement showing multiple cars. Denny has also made it known that he is looking to expand the team and get multiple cars to their name. What was not known was if the team would take a young driver with many years left and lots of room to improve or would they take an older veteran driver who can teach Bubba the ropes and grow him as a driver while also being able to drive the car into victory lane.
In July it was announced that Chip Ganassi Racing would get bought out by the other new NASCAR team Team Trackhosue Racing, leaving the Ganassi boys Ross Chastain and Kurt Busch without rides for the 2022 season. Immediately the rumor mill started churning out Busch to 23XI rumors and last week it was finally made official when the team announced that Kurt Busch would pilot the #45 (Jordan’s other number during his NBA career) for his time with the team.
Busch joining the team adds a whole new dimension to the way the 23XI can grow as a team. First and most importantly is knowing that Denny and MJ are all in on Bubba Wallace as their guy so growing and developing him is their #1 priority this year and next year. Bubba already showed immense growth and almost put himself into the playoffs after commanding the field at Daytona for many laps before falling short to Ryan Blaney at the end of the race. Kurt Busch is a driver who has been in the sport for many years and in his time has been through a lot mentally and physically in his long career. Busch can help Bubba handle the mental side of growing as a driver and handling the pressure of being a successful driver. Busch also brings something we see yearly, an anomaly that we see every year, the Kurt Busch win. Every year since 2013, no matter how bad the season is going, no matter how many races it takes, Kurt Busch finds a way to win. Most importantly last year when he was in a must win at his home track in Las Vegas Busch got it done on the final restart to drive his way into the next round. This could mean that next year, should the tradition stand, we will see Busch get the first win for 23XI if Bubba does not get it done in the remainder of the season.
Kurt Busch seemed to be the only logical answer to the question of who can be Bubba’s team mate once he became available with the knowledge and guaranteed win he brings every year. Watching these 2 drivers take the track next year is going to be exciting and it will be special to see which driver brings home the first checkered flag back to team headquarters.