By David Morgan, Associate Editor
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In its first year of existence, 23XI Racing is wasting no time in making big moves as the team announced Friday it would be expanding to a two-car team in 2022, signing veteran Kurt Busch to pilot the team’s second car – the No. 45 Monster Energy sponsored Toyota.
The 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion will be heading into his 23rd season at NASCAR’s top level when he joins the team co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin – the seventh different team he has driven for over the course of his career.
Currently, Busch drives for Chip Ganassi Racing, where he has driven since 2019. Prior to his run at CGR, Busch raced for Roush-Fenway Racing, Team Penske, Phoenix Racing, Furniture Row Racing, and Stewart-Haas Racing.
With the move to 23XI and Toyota next season, Busch will have raced all four manufacturers that have fielded cars in the Cup Series, currently racing Chevrolets, but also previously driving Fords and Dodges for his former teams.
In 745 Cup Series starts, Busch has won 33 races, including the 2017 Daytona 500 and most recently at Atlanta Motor Speedway in July.
“I cannot begin to express my gratitude for this opportunity,” said Busch. “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 will join the team’s current driver, Bubba Wallace, who pilots the No. 23 Toyota in his fourth full-time season in the Cup Series. Through 25 races, Wallace’s lone top-10 finish came with a fifth-place result at Pocono Raceway in late June.
In a tip of the cap to team co-owner Michael Jordan, the numbers of the team’s two drivers are the same numbers that Jordan wore during his Hall of Fame NBA career.
“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,” said 23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin. “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.”
With a win under his belt in 2021, Busch will head into the Playoffs as one of the 16 drivers eligible to race for a championship, as he looks to deliver Chip Ganassi Racing a title before the team closes its doors at season’s end.