Kurt Busch Jumps in at 23XI Racing and Sets Lofty Expectations for Bubba Wallace in 2022
Kurt Busch has 33 NASCAR Cup Series wins to his credit. He won the 2004 championship. When 23XI Racing announced the 43-year-old driver would be joining the team, most agreed his wealth of knowledge would allow him to be a great teacher for teammate Bubba Wallace.
Classes started this week at Charlotte Motor Speedway during testing for the Next Gen car. Busch visited with reporters and talked about his first day on the job, what he brings to the team, and the expectations he has for Wallace in their first year together.
Kurt Busch joins 23XI Racing
After weeks of speculation this summer, 23XI Racing officially announced Kurt Busch as the team’s second driver in late August. Team co-owner Denny Hamlin said bringing on a driver with a pedigree like Busch would help the entire organization.
“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 in a release. “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 was equally excited about his new team.
“I cannot begin to express the gratitude for this opportunity,” Busch said in a statement. “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.”
Kurt Busch details what he brings to team and expects of Bubba Wallace in 2022
Just a week after the 2021 Cup Series season ended, Kurt Busch reported to work in an official capacity for his new employer at Charlotte Motor Speedway to test the Next Gen car. The 2017 Daytona 500 winner said his first responsibility is as a driver, and with that, his job is to use his knowledge base and “find things a veteran is supposed to find within a new car.”
Busch said he looks forward to sharing that knowledge with various members of the team, including teammate Bubba Wallace, who he has specific expectations for in their first year together.
“There’s young engineers and young crew members that are eager to learn, and all the knowledge that I have in certain areas, I’d love to kind of transfer it off to certain guys,” said Busch. “Then, with Bubba, we want him to jump into the program with a mindset to win and to be there at another level next year.”
Busch also addressed the marketing side of being a driver and how he wants to ensure all the brands and partners with 23XI get the full experience of working with the team.
Bubba Wallace can build on successful first season with 23XI
For Bubba Wallace to take it to another level in 2022, he’ll be improving on what was his best year in four full-time seasons with the Cup Series in 2021. He finished the season with three top-5s, including his first-ever win at Talladega. In the final season standings, he finished 21st, one spot better than his previous best the year before at Richard Petty Motorsports.
While it was his best season thus far in his short career, Wallace would be the first to admit there’s considerable room for improvement. Adding someone of Busch’s caliber is exactly what the younger driver needs at this point in his career. Not only will the former champion be able to provide Wallace with tips on specific tracks, the veteran’s experience with previous iterations of cars has taught him what to look for and where to look when it comes to improving a car’s performance.
Years from now, when 23XI Racing looks back on its history, the addition of Busch will be viewed as a landmark moment because he not only brought general racing wisdom from his years of experience, he arrived at the perfect time with the ushering in of a new car and dramatically reduced the learning curve.