FOX Sports writer Bob Pockrass reported on October 13 that 23XI Racing‘s charter deal with Front Row Motorsports had fallen through. However, Denny Hamlin remains dedicated to running a second car during the 2022 season with Kurt Busch behind the wheel.
The 23XI Racing co-owner spoke to media members prior to the playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, October 17. Hamlin expressed frustration about the continued pursuit of a charter that will guarantee entry into every race on the schedule, as well as a larger portion of the purse, before reiterating that the organization will expand in 2022 after committing to Busch and the No. 45 team.
“I just wish we wouldn’t gotten so far,” Hamlin told The Athletic’s Jeff Gluck. “I mean, we were far. We were tens of thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — in on legal fees. Like, just done. Certainly, I had people who warned me, like, ‘Are you sure (the deal is happening)?’ I’m like, ‘Yeah. I’m sure.’ And whatever (happened) was just minds changing.”
23XI Racing Officially Added Busch to the Roster in August
The NASCAR Cup Series team announced on August 27 that Busch was officially joining the team for the 2022 season. 23XI Racing released a special video and ended the constant stream of rumors. The team also provided the first look at Busch’s No. 45 Toyota, which featured the Monster Energy scheme.
The clip confirmed that the 2004 Cup Series champion would switch teams and manufacturers after the 2021 season comes to an end. It also revealed that NASCAR teams will move the door numbers forward for 2022 to provide more room for partner logos.
“And you thought I was leaving,” Busch said in the announcement video as he walked off of his private jet. “Racing for 23XI? Are you kidding me? It’s Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin, Toyota. There’s more winning to be done.”
The No. 45 does not yet have a charter for the 2022 season, but Busch will most likely have multiple opportunities to qualify for the races on the schedule. Though the smaller purse will still remain an issue for 23XI Racing.
“It certainly is not going to be financially good for us, but this whole f****** sport is financially not good for us. What’s the difference?” Hamlin added during his media availability, per Gluck.
1 Team’s Chartered Entry Will Draw Attention in the Remaining Races
With 23XI Racing’s deal with Front Row Motorsports falling through, there are questions about how Hamlin’s team will acquire a charter before the 2022 season. There are no obvious options, but one particular team will draw attention in the three remaining races of the season.
According to Pockrass, the No. 51 Petty Ware Racing entry is in a precarious position. The stock car will have to gain four or five points on the No. 15 in order to avoid a bottom-three finish among chartered teams for the third consecutive season. The No. 15 is currently 34th in the standings with 199 points while the No. 51 is fifth with 195 points. The only two chartered entries below the No. 51 are RWR’s No. 53 and StarCom Racing’s No. 00.
This finishing order is important to note due to NASCAR having the right to repossess a charter if a team finishes among the bottom three chartered teams for three consecutive seasons. There is no guarantee that the sanctioning body will repossess the charter, but it does have the right.
One interesting wrinkle is the fact that Richard Petty Motorsports technically owns the charter while Rick Ware Racing operates it. Pockrass noted that there is a scenario in which NASCAR allows RPM to sell the charter instead of simply repossessing it. This situation would potentially provide Hamlin and 23XI Racing with another charter option. Though other potential buyers would likely remain in the mix for the deal.