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McDonald’s waited 27 years between trips to victory lane, finally returning this fall with Bubba Wallace’s No. 23 Toyota in the rain-shortened Talladega playoff race.

The fast-food giant would like to return there sooner rather than later. It helps explain why the $195 billion corporation has doubled down for 2022 with a new deal that also brings Kurt Busch into the fold.

The Big Mac attack sounds like a super-sized win for 23XI Racing as it continues to build momentum in the Cup Series.

McDonald’s backed Bubba Wallace in his move to 23XI Racing

Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch will be teammates at 23XI Racing for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. | Getty Images
Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch will be teammates at 23XI Racing for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. | Getty Images

Sponsors are everything to a NASCAR team and even more so to individual drivers. That’s because a driver who enjoys the loyal backing of a business with a product or service to sell can call the shots when negotiating his next contract with a team. For instance, Kurt Busch would have commanded interest for the 2022 season anyway, but being able to bring Monster Energy along made landing him an even greater priority for 23XI Racing.

Similarly, Bubba Wallace became a hot free agent late in the tumultuous 2020 season at Richard Petty Motorsports. Wallace’s role in removing the Confederate flag from NASCAR tracks, plus the outpouring of support for him after the discovery of a noose-like rope in the team’s Talladega garage, turned a winless Cup Series driver into a national celebrity. Door Dash and Columbia Sportswear were among the companies that came aboard midseason and then followed him to 23XI Racing in 2021.

That was nice backing to have, but the real prize was the support from McDonald’s. One of the best-known brands in the world upped its commitment from one primary sponsorship per year to eight races this past season.

The company’s reward was the chain’s first trip to victory lane since the days of sponsoring Jimmy Spencer’s Junior Johnson Ford in 1994.

McDonald’s is backing Bubba Wallace and Kurt Busch in 2022

The 23XI Racing team announced Tuesday that McDonald’s is expanding its sponsorship. Besides continuing to support the No. 23 Toyota of Bubba Wallace for multiple races, including the Daytona 500, McDonald’s will back Kurt Busch’s No. 45 Camry as its primary sponsor in an undisclosed number of races.

“McDonald’s has really stepped up over the years and played a large part in my career,” Wallace said in the announcement. “Getting McDonald’s back to victory lane for the first time since 1994 and having them on our Camry for my first win in the Cup Series this year was really special.”

The news is particularly nice for Busch. Though he still enjoys Monster Energy’s support, GearWrench isn’t following Busch to 23XI Racing. Instead, the automotive and industrial hand tools manufacturer has aligned with Kevin Harvick at Stewart-Haas Racing, leaving Busch to fill his primary sponsorship for four races.

“Racing with Monster Energy over the last decade together has been an incredible ride,” Busch said. “We win, we have fun, we promote together, and I am very grateful for their partnership. It feels like family racing for them, and I believe McDonald’s will have the same feel.”

Kurt Busch should enjoy a smooth start at 23XI Racing

NASCAR Cup Series veteran Denny Hamlin, who owns a minority stake in Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing, told that it was not a foregone conclusion the business would grow to two cars in 2022. The expansion didn’t become a certainty until Hamlin vetted Kurt Busch.

“I’ve been on the racetrack with Kurt my whole career, right? I know how he races. I want to hear how he was from a teammate standpoint, so I went to lunch with a lot of his old teammates, and they all said one thing: ‘Get Kurt. He is by far the best teammate. He will help your organization. He is the person to go get.’”

Denny Hamlin

Busch, 43, is a proven commodity who can continue competing at a high level in the Cup Series while lending stability to 23XI and teammate Bubba Wallace as it grows. He has won at least one race in every season since 2014 and has scored 33 victories in all. The Las Vegas native has driven for big-name teams like Roush Racing, Roger Penske, and Stewart-Haas Racing. Had Chip Ganassi not pulled out of NASCAR at the conclusion of last season, he could have easily finished out his career there.

There’s every reason to believe that further bolstered by McDonald’s, he’ll add to his win total at least once in the upcoming season.

All stats courtesy of Racing Reference.


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