Kurt Busch has a multi-year deal with 23XI Racing, the NASCAR team owned by basketball great Michael Jordan and fellow driver Denny Hamlin.
Hamlin released more details Saturday about the new partnership and said he is in the final stages of securing a charter for Busch’s No. 45 Toyota in 2022. Charters guarantee teams 36 spots in each week’s 40-car field. Without one, Busch would have to qualify for every race.
Hamlin, a three-time Daytona 500 winner, partnered with Jordan this year to build a team around Bubba Wallace, NASCAR’s only Black driver. It was an easy startup because Wallace brings millions in sponsorship. Monster Energy, which sponsors Busch’s No. 1 Chevrolet at Chip Ganassi Racing, will move with Busch to 23XI next year.
Jordan wore No. 45 when he returned to the NBA in 1995 following his first retirement. Wallace drives the No. 23, which is most associated with Jordan’s career.
In NASCAR, the No. 45 has long been associated with the Petty family. It was piloted by both Kyle Petty and his son, Adam, who was killed at age 19 in a 2000 crash. 23XI reached out to Kyle Petty for his approval to get the car number back on track.
Busch will become just the second to drive for each of NASCAR’s last four manufacturers: Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford and Toyota. Kasey Kahne also accomplished the journeyman feat.
>>Blaney Outlasts Chaos to Win at Daytona
Ryan Blaney won for the second consecutive week when the race Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway ended under caution in overtime with a typical fiery finish.
Tyler Reddick took the 16th and final spot in the playoffs with a seventh-place finish. Reddick needed only to beat Richard Childress Racing teammate Austin Dillon and hope for a repeat winner to earn his first playoff berth.
Reddick and Dillon were both in contention to make a desperate last gasp push for the win in the two-lap overtime sprint to the finish. But Blaney, who was second on the restart, cleared traffic with a push from Corey LaJoie and was well ahead of the pack when a crash ended the race.