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EXCLUSIVE: Kurt Busch is on track to get a great performance review the first year on his new job.
Busch joined Bubba Wallace at Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin’s 23XI Racing NASCAR Cup Series team this season, adding two decades of experience to an outfit that’s still going through growing pains it its second year.
A win at Kansas and several top-five finishes have put him in a playoff position, a first for the team, which scored its inaugural race victory with Bubba Wallace at Talladega in 2021.
Busch told Fox News Autos Jordan is very active with the team and adds an “incredible blend of coolness and power” to the effort.
“We’re racing with Michael Jordan type of spirit,” Busch said.
“When we just missed out on pole position at Loudon [New Hampshire], he texted me with the [shrug] emoji of ‘Why’d you choke? What’d you do wrong? I thought you had it.’
“That’s him. That’s the fan. That’s the sport in him.”
Busch said Jordan comes to the table with a knowledge of NASCAR as a North Carolina native, and he gives feedback via a group chat on Sundays after races.
“He loves his cars, he loves to win and, you know, there’s that responsibility that I feel when I race for him,” Busch said.
Busch also has a solid relationship with his other boss, Hamlin, who still drives full time for Joe Gibbs Racing and dedicates about four days a week to 23XI Racing.
He knows who pays the bills but isn’t afraid to get tough with Hamlin on the track when they’re fighting for position.
“He would want me to drive right through him,” Busch said.
As for what the future holds, Busch is not quite sure yet. He’ll definitely be back next year, when he turns 45, and the team has told him he can drive for it as long as he wants, even as it has signed Tyler Reddick for the 2024 season.
“That respect, I feel it,” Busch said.