Rumors have swirled throughout the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season surrounding 23XI Racing and the team’s plans to expand to a two-car operation. Co-owners Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan have yet to obtain a charter, but they are currently linked to another Cup Series team. 23XI Racing is in talks with Front Row Motorsports, according to Fox Sports reporter Bob Pockrass.
Pockrass provided the update prior to the race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He explained that Hamlin has engaged in talks to obtain a charter and that they “have progressed the most” with Front Row, the team behind Daytona 500 winner Michael McDowell and rookie Anthony Alfredo.
Pockrass added that the discussions have involved several different scenarios, including the acquisition of one or both charters, which would pair another driver with Bubba Wallace. He also listed a merger as one of the potential options for 23XI Racing and Front Row Motorsports.
Of the two Front Row Motorsports cars, the No. 38 serves as the most likely option for a potential sale. Alfredo is currently in the midst of his first full-time Cup Series season and has yet to crack the top 10 while driving for a smaller team. His best finish is 12th in the Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. McDowell, on the other hand, locked up a win in the Daytona 500 and added another five top-10 finishes to his season total. He will compete in the playoffs for the first time in his career.
Hamlin & Jordan Do Not Yet Have a Deal in Place
Pockrass set out to obtain further information about the potential merger amid the expansion talks. He directly asked Hamlin about 23XI’s plans prior to the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard but did not receive a considerable amount of information.
“I don’t have any deals with anyone right now,” Hamlin told Pockrass on Saturday, August 14. The Fox Sports reporter pressed on and asked if 23XI was close, to which Hamlin responded, “We’re still working through it. It’s week to week to be honest with you.”
The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry did not confirm that he is within reach of a merger or the acquisition of a second charter, but he also did not shut down the rumors. Hamlin simply confirmed that the team is currently working on a deal that would help them add another driver to the roster.
Hamlin previously reiterated that his goal is to expand for the 2022 season. He responded to Trackhouse Racing purchasing Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR operation and said that the major move did not impact his own plans for the future.
Kurt Busch Remains the Favorite to Land With 23XI
Several races remain in the 2021 NASCAR season, but questions continue to swirl about 23XI Racing and the identity of the second driver. There are many options for the team, but Kurt Busch remains the favorite to land with the Hamlin and Jordan co-owned team.
The driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro has faced several questions about his Cup Series future, and he has only added to the intrigue. According to Jayski, Busch said that “things look very promising” and that a few puzzle pieces remain before he can make any announcements.
If Busch does indeed plan to join 23XI Racing prior to the 2022 Cup Series season, it would make sense that he hasn’t announced anything just yet. Obtaining a charter or enough sponsors to run a full season without a charter is a key piece of the equation, but the team has yet to complete this task.