If 23XI Racing expand to two cars for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, here are five possibilities to fill their second seat.
Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan joined forces to create 23XI Racing ahead of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, and they now field the #23 Toyota for former Richard Petty Motorsports driver Bubba Wallace.
But Hamlin wants them to become a multi-car operation as quickly as possible, and there has been quite a bit of speculation about the team’s future in recent weeks.
Here is what Hamlin had to say about the matter a few months ago.
“I’d like to expand as soon as possible.… We’re trying our best to be the team that Toyota feels like they have a place for their young guys to go. Or maybe, we go for an established veteran who’s got a great resume.”
So if there are two full-time 23XI Racing Toyotas competing in the 2022 season, who will the second driver be? Here are five possibilities that range from the “young guys” to the “established veterans”.
Candidates for 23XI Racing expansion: No. 1 – Kurt Busch
We’ll start with an established veteran who has emerged as the top candidate to move to 23XI Racing in a second car next year. Kurt Busch is in a contract year with Chip Ganassi Racing as the driver of the #1 Chevrolet this year, and there has been speculation that the 2021 season could be his last.
Busch signed an extension with Chip Ganassi Racing back in 2019 because he wanted the chance to drive the Next Gen car. But even with the debut of the Next Gen car having been delayed to the 2022 season as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, he didn’t sign another new deal.
While that initially didn’t necessarily mean that he wouldn’t be back with the team next year, we do know now that he won’t be, since Trackhouse Racing Team are set to acquire the team after the 2021 season.
His experience would be ideal for a new team such as 23XI Racing, which have struggled and experienced quite a few growing pains with Wallace behind the wheel in their first season of competition, and he is absolutely on their radar.