When the 2021 season began, many in the NASCAR world wondered if it would be Kurt Busch’s last season in the Cup Series. Forty-two years old (now 43) and one of the oldest drivers in the sport, Busch hadn’t ruled out retiring at some point in the near future. The 2004 Cup champion put this speculation to rest, however, when 23XI Racing announced in late August that Busch would become the driver for the organization’s brand new second team beginning in 2022. Busch, who is bringing longtime sponsor Monster Energy with him, will compete as a teammate to Bubba Wallace who was the organization’s lone driver in its 2021 debut season. Busch signed a multi-year deal, signaling a commitment that goes beyond just the 2022 campaign and that he’s nowhere near retirement.
After spending the last three seasons in a Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, Busch looks forward to seeing what he can do in a Toyota fielded by his new team owners, Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan. “I cannot begin to express my gratitude for this opportunity,” said Busch, who has been a full-time Cup driver since 2001 and earned 33 wins in the sport’s premier division. “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 campaign the No. 45, a new number for him and one that has been out of the sport for many years. “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.”