Trackhouse Racing surprised the motorsports industry on June 30 by announcing the purchase of Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR operation. The news created intrigue for the 2022 season while simultaneously putting the microscope on other teams. Now 23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin has clarified that he still plans on expanding his team.
The driver-owner responded to the Ganassi purchase and explained that it does not impact his own plans. He and co-owner Michael Jordan will still move to add a second car to the team, giving Bubba Wallace another driver to work with as he pursues wins and a spot in the playoffs.
“I thought it was a great move by Justin and the Trackhouse guys,” Hamlin said, per NBC Sports. “Did anyone really think Ganassi was for sale? I don’t think so. I also think that they’ve got those relationships [Marks has] driven with him before, so I’m sure he’s had dialogue with him. I think it’s good for our sport. A little sad to see Chip go. I really loved Chip and what he’s about. We gain and we lose with that deal.”
Adding a Second Car Will Require a Major Move
Hamlin and Jordan can’t simply give a driver a contract and have them join Wallace on the track. Instead, they will have to make a major business move to achieve this goal. Acquiring a charter is the most direct route, but they could be in short supply.
There are already four charters that will move prior to the 2022 season. Kaulig Racing purchased two from Spire Motorsports, announcing the move on June 20, and then Trackhouse purchased both of Ganassi’s. Additionally, GMS Racing will make the leap from the Truck Series to the Cup Series and could take another off the board. There is no public price available for these charters, but the rumored number is around $10 million.
Another option is merging with another race team. There are several smaller organizations that lack funding and could benefit from partnering with 23XI Racing. The team has an existing partnership with Toyota Racing, as well as numerous sponsors. Merging could immediately make a smaller team a contender.
“I think every team owner has to weigh what the risk is, weigh what the outlook looks like,” Hamlin said about 23XI’s options. “I think this thing, like I said last week, you still have to have big money and sponsorship if you want to compete.
“Every team owner, whether it be in the front of the pack, middle of the pack or back [has to] think about whether this business model is going to work for them. There’s all kinds of avenues you can take to get a charter.”
Hamlin Still Has Time to Make Decisions About 23XI
While the veteran driver will continue to face questions about the future of his team, he won’t have to make any decisions in the immediate future. There are still six races remaining in the regular season and then another 10 that make up the playoffs. For now, Hamlin’s primary focus will be contending for the Cup Series championship.
The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camry is currently atop the points standings after 20 races. He has a three-point lead over Kyle Larson but has yet to win a race in 2021. Despite failing to reach Victory Lane, Hamlin is currently in the playoffs and will remain so as long as fewer than 16 drivers win a race.
There are several tracks on the remaining schedule where Hamlin has previous success, which would mark his 15th season with at least one win. The Cup Series drivers will head to Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 11, a track where Hamlin has a previous win and six top-five finishes. The race will take place at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.