Kurt Busch opens up on impact of Reddick signing, 'fountain of youth' and how long he'll be racing

Kurt Busch opens up on impact of Reddick signing, ‘fountain of youth’ and how long he’ll be racing

LOUDON, NH — As a small handful of drivers over the age of 40 racing full-time at NASCAR’s top level, 2004 Cup Series winner Kurt Bush isn’t immune to retirement rumors.

He’s grown over the years, almost an annual tradition at this point, but here he is, still winning races and looking competitive just weeks into his 44th birthday.

Naturally, with news this week that up-and-coming superstar Tyler Reddick had signed on with Bush’s Team 23XI Racing – currently running Operation Number 23 Toyota of two cars with Bubba Wallace – the rumor mill has struck again. Started that Bush might be the odd man out before Reddick joined the franchise for the 2024 season. Team co-owner Denny Hamlin reiterated strongly during the announcement that Bush will have a seat for as long as he wants (and that a “kush office job” awaits him when he decides to hang on to it). ) But a lot can change more than a year and a half.

RELATED: 23XI signs Redick for 2024 | weekend program

For now, nothing has changed. In fact, it may have opened up some new “options” for itself and for the 23XI as well.

“It’s all on the same timeline,” Bush said Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s Ember 301 (3 p.m. ET, USA Network, NBC Sports App, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). “For me, it’s out in the open right now, the things we’re working on behind the scenes, the process we were evaluating and communicating with Toyota and their development program. So these options to be clear- It’s tidy, it’s the important thing and the options are part of it. That’s what it does with sponsorship, it does it with Toyota’s partnership, and just like we do with some things and the infrastructure behind the scenes. It’s a major movement. And that’s what we’re trying to do as a team.

“It’s still the same, it’s a matter of what the right choice is. And while all the signs point to this or that, the big thing I have right now is a lot of respect from the race team. Steve Louletta, MJ, Denny, they’ve all said that I have a seat for as long as I want. It’s so valuable to me. Just… it makes me smile, want to work harder and work harder. So right now There are also a lot of options that we are looking at.”

However, 23XI will have to make a decision at some point. No car number or sponsor was created of the Radic announcement, just a “franchise driver” signed by the Michael Jordan/Hamlin-co-owned organization. There was also no sign of expansion.

it is a lot of It is unlikely for Reddick to oust Wallace, and Bush could decide his future based on what Hamlin has said. One possibility is, of course, that the team expands to three cars to accommodate its latest acquisition, but that’s a tall order for an organization that’s still trying to find its sea legs to an extent in its infancy. working for. After all, this is the second year of its existence, and Hamlin himself has repeatedly said that it will take years for the team to get where it wants.

So, having to rely on Bush’s departure after next season to post in front of a laptop instead of a steering wheel feels less likely at this point to see how Bush continues to perform. A win at Kansas Speedway earlier this year has temporarily locked him in the playoffs, and he has been sporty in the “Magic Mile” this weekend, claiming a P3 spot in Saturday’s qualifying season. .

MORE: Kurt Bush Through the Years | Won all their cup series

It’s just a matter of, essentially, how long he wants to keep doing this.

“I need to call Mark Martin and double-check where the fountain of youth is,” Bush asked if he wanted to run in his 50s. “It’s just … it’s honor. And it’s the opportunity that’s all around us in which producers are filling out sponsorships for me and it’s kind of a place to be a part of it when I’m racing. Important to me too. So there are a lot of options right now. We don’t have all the exact answers.

“I don’t have a[age]in my head, I sat down again and did lists and choices and ideas, pros and cons, when I was going from Roche to Penske, and when I was leaving Penske, and just all the lists. .

“The important thing is that if the phone keeps ringing, you keep running.”

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