The NASCAR Cup Series team co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin has taken another step toward the 2022 season. 23XI Racing has acquired a charter for the second stock car that will debut with Kurt Busch as the driver.
Hamlin provided the update prior to the postponed Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, October 3. He confirmed that the No. 45 Toyota Camry will have a charter that guarantees entry into every single race, as well as a larger portion of the purse. Hamlin added that he has secured a crew chief that will work with Busch in 2022.
The driver-owner declined to provide the identity of the crew chief, saying that he currently works for another team. Hamlin said that the crew chief is “someone Kurt is comfortable with,” per the Associated Press writer Jenna Fryer. He added that “there are no secrets out there.”
A Current Crew Chief Serves as a Potential Option for Busch
While Hamlin could not reveal the identity of the new crew chief, he still created immediate intrigue among racing fans. A multitude responded to Fryer on social media and made their predictions about which crew chief will join 23XI Racing in 2022.
The first name mentioned on October 3 was Matt McCall, the current crew chief of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet Camaro. He has worked with Busch since the 2019 season, resulting in three victories, three consecutive trips to the playoffs, and a total of 17 top-five finishes. Although the two men have not moved beyond the Round of Eight during their time together.
Prior to working with Busch, McCall served as the crew chief for both Jeff Burton and Jamie McMurray. He spent one race with Burton in 2013 — Crown Royal Presents The Samuel Deeds 400 — while replacing Luke Lambert. He then spent four seasons (2015-2018) as the full-time crew chief of McMurray, resulting in 11 top-five finishes.
There are questions about McCall’s future considering that CGR sold its NASCAR operations to Trackhouse Racing and will not field any teams in 2022. Joining 23XI Racing could be an option for the veteran crew chief.
Busch Could Reunite With a Familiar Face in 2022
McCall was not the only popular option mentioned on social media. Multiple other people mentioned Billy Scott, who worked with Busch at Stewart-Haas Racing during the 2018 season.
The crew chief for Danica Patrick in 2016 and 2017, Scott moved over to the No. 41 team in 2018 after Busch signed a one-year contract extension. The two men joined forces starting with the Daytona 500 and made the playoffs after Busch won at Bristol Motor Speedway. They ended their lone season with the victory, 22 top-10 finishes, and six top-fives.
Busch departed SHR at the end of the 2018 season and headed over to Chip Ganassi Racing. Scott, on the other hand, remained with SHR and became Daniel Suarez’s crew chief for the 2019 season.
While Scott has not been a full-time crew chief since the end of the 2019 season, he has made intermittent starts. He worked with Justin Haley and Kaulig Racing during the 2020 Daytona 500 and then joined Austin Dillon and Our Motorsports for two Xfinity Series races in 2021.