The 2004 NASCAR Cup Series champion has officially assumed his role as the driver of the No. 45 Toyota. Kurt Busch has kicked off his offseason by getting to work at 23XI Racing, the team for which he’ll drive in 2022.
The 23XI Racing Twitter account provided the first photos of Busch at his new home on Saturday, November 13. The team showed him in his normal Monster Energy firesuit, albeit one with some changes. Instead of Chevrolet and Chip Ganassi Racing logos, he had on ones for Toyota and 23XI. Busch’s signature Monster Energy hat also featured the 23XI Racing logo on the sides.
As the photos showed, Busch primarily focused on the No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD that he will drive during his first season with 23XI Racing. He examined the body and did some seat tests to ensure that he will be ready to hit the track on February 5 when practice and qualifying take place for the Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum.
Like fellow champion Brad Keselowski, who made the move to Roush Fenway Racing, Busch had to finish out his tenure with another team before assuming his new role. He capped off the season with Chip Ganassi Racing at Phoenix Raceway on November 7. Once the checkered flag waved and the haulers left the track, he became an employee of 23XI Racing.
23XI Racing’s Charter Issues Appear To Be Over
One of the biggest storylines since 23XI Racing and Busch unveiled the No. 45 Toyota has been whether the team had acquired a charter that guarantees entry into every race. Co-owner Denny Hamlin told reporters on October 3 that he had one in hand, but that deal ultimately fell through.
23XI Racing’s pursuit of a charter has remained a focal point in the weeks since the deal fell apart, but now another prominent figure has provided a critical update. Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson told Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press that 23XI Racing has secured a charter for 2022.
The acquisition of the charter means that 23XI Racing can stop fretting about a significant issue and simply focus on preparing the two-car operation for the 2022 season. Bubba Wallace already secured the first win in the organization’s history, but now he and Busch can pursue even more while working together on the track.
A New Era Begins for Busch in 2022
A full-time Cup Series driver since 2001, Busch has achieved a considerable amount in more than two decades of racing. He has won 33 races, as well as the 2004 championship. He also took three different OEMs to Victory Lane — Dodge, Ford, and Chevrolet.
The 2022 season will mark the beginning of a new era for Busch. He will drive a Toyota for the first time in his Cup career — he made 11 starts in a Toyota during the 2012 Nationwide Series season — and he will do so while driving for a fellow Cup Series contender in Hamlin.
Busch will also have another change regarding the sponsor on his stock car. He will still work with Monster Energy during the 2022 season, but GearWrench will move to Stewart-Haas Racing and Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Ford Mustang. This sponsor change will potentially open up three or more races for another primary sponsor.
23XI Racing has yet to provide more details about Busch’s partners for his inaugural season in the No. 45 Toyota. These announcements will take place in the coming months as the veteran driver prepares to make his debut in Southern California.