Even though Kurt Busch is no longer a part of the Cup Series playoffs, his number 45 car has been a part of every race this season and is eligible for the car’s 23XI Racing owners to continue being a part of the Owner’s Championship.
To that end 23XI is making a driver change. Beginning with the race at Darlington Raceway this weekend, Bubba Wallace will slide over and finish out the season as the driver of the number 45 car. Wallace will retain his current crew chief Bootie Barker with Billy Scott moving over to be crew chief of the number 23 car.
Ty Gibbs, who has been sitting in for Kurt Busch will take over the driving duties of the number 23 car.
Busch’s number 45 car became eligible the owners championship when he won the race at Kansas in May. While 16 drivers will be competing for the Cup Series championship, 17 cars will be competing for the owner’s championship. The 45 car is currently ranked in 12th place in the owner’s standings 33 behind the leader – the number nine car driven by Chase Elliott.
23XL Racing President Steve Lauretta spoke on the matter saying, “Kurt put us in the playoffs and isn’t able to finish out the mission. We’re still qualified for the owners’ championship and now we’re looking to Bubba and Bootie, and that team to take the number 45 mantle and try to have our strongest run.”
He continued, “since we started 23XL as a one car team and grew to two cars, we’ve always said we are two cars but act as one team. This is us putting that, again, into reality. The whole point of this is to put our team in the best position to get as far in the owners’ championship playoffs as possible.”
Kurt Busch has not driven since he sustained a head injury during qualifying at Pocono Raceway in July. He continues to heal but has not received medical clearance to return to racing.