It Has Been A Process For Kurt Busch And 23XI Racingby Hunter Thomas May 16, 2022 0 comments
Sunday’s win in the AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway couldn’t have come at a better time for Kurt Busch, who drives the No. 45 Jordan Brand Toyota for newly formed team, 23XI Racing.
Busch is a former champion in the NASCAR Cup Series, and throughout his 23 years of racing, he has only gone three full-time seasons without winning a race. The Las Vegas native isn’t a 20-year-old with decades of racing ahead of him. Moving to a new team that is only two seasons old, while piloting a new generation car and competing for a different manufacturer can be challenging; however, for Busch, finding success in only his 13th start in this scenario shows just how talented the veteran driver is and how much value he can add to 23XI Racing.
“It’s a process,” Busch said. “You have to start from the ground up when you are building a brand-new car, whether it’s the Next Gen or the No. 45 at 23XI. The Toyota family brought me in; Monster Energy said, let’s go do this. You have steps that you have to take. When I switched from Roush to Penske we won in our sixth race together. When I switched over to SHR, I think it was, again, like our sixth race, won at Martinsville. This one took a little bit, but here we are. We’re winners. It’s a process. The Ganassi car, we won mid-summer when I switched to them.
“Each place, each sequence I’m just happy to have a ride and happy to give my best. Early in my career it was all about me, me, me, and now I’ve understood this is a team, and every element is super important. So I was able to do my job today. My team put me out there in position, and I wasn’t going to let anybody named Kyle (Busch and Larson) beat me today.”
On Sunday at Kansas Speedway, Busch led a race high of 116 laps. Throughout the day, he battled his brother, Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson. Not only did he dominate the majority of the race, but he did so with the Jordan Brand on the hood, so performing well with the boss’ name on the car adds a little more to the victory. With just nine laps to go, Busch pulled off the race-winning move on Larson as the two drivers battled one final time in Turn 2. Busch dove deep into the corner and slid up the track. Larson couldn’t hold his position on the track as he slid up into the outside wall. From there, it was smooth sailing for the 43-year-old.
“To win at a mile-and-a-half, to beat Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson, to be in position for the win, I knew it was there,” Busch said. “I had to dig deep and I had to find something. I just had to find something that would be a little bit above Larson, a little bit of a trickery move on Larson. I said, I just have to stay close. I’ve got to stay close. After we got beat off pit road and we were restarting third, just got to stay close.”
Denny Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing said, ““Yeah, it’s big on a lot of levels. Obviously, Jordan Brand, their very first race. It’s just huge. I said it when Bubba (Wallace) won last year how huge it was. This is obviously a big one. It’s one that’s surprising, but not, because I’ve seen over the last three weeks this team just continue to get better and better and better.
Busch hasn’t been having a terrible season. He has three top-five and five top-10 finishes so far in 2022, but he has had four finishes outside of the top-30, along with two DNFs. In fact, he entered Kansas coming off a crash at Darlington Raceway, which wasn’t his fault; however, the timing of this win is monumental for Busch and the 23XI Racing organization. Now, Busch has gotten the first win out of the way, and for 23XI Racing, the organization dominated on a 1.5-mile track, and the team’s other driver, Bubba Wallace overcame adversity to finish 10th. Sunday’s result was due to a complete total team effort.
The NASCAR Cup Series will visit Texas Motor Speedway next for the NASCAR All-Star Race. Live coverage will broadcast on FS1 and MRN at 5:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, May 22.
Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images