Kurt Busch and 23XI Racing are still reveling in Busch’s victory from last weekend at Kansas Speedway — a celebration he brought to the team shop. On Thursday, Busch posted photos on Twitter of the organization popping bottles and including everyone on both the No. 45 and No. 23 teams.
“What a great win for our team and 23XI,” Busch said at Texas Motor Speedway before All-Star festivities. “All the men and women who have jumped on board to build the 45 car up and to just see the progress and to be a part of it from just one little top-10 finish, to leading some laps, a couple of top fives, and then just a rough stretch of wrong place at the wrong time as far as wrecks and building the cars back up and piecing together everything to make sure we stayed on schedule.”
Wanted to make sure everyone back at the shop got a little taste of victory lane celebrations! Thankful for each and every individual that makes up @23XIRacing. We earned this win together. pic.twitter.com/LsoHPqEmeT
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) May 19, 2022
Busch dominated at Kansas, leading the most laps and winning the race. While the 34th of his career, it is his fifth driving for a different team and the second in 23XI Racing’s history.
“All the progress has now put us in that spot where we’re solidified as a good team,” Busch said. “And I told everybody at our team meeting and our team celebration that we need to become a great team. So those are the next steps.”
Kansas was the high spot in what has been an up and down first part of the season for Busch and crew chief Billy Scott. Busch had not led more than four laps in a single race before Kansas (he led 116), and the No. 45 group had a clean race on pit road and on the track.
Mistakes and misfortune have plagued the team, from getting caught in something on track to parts issues. But there’s also been the races where the proof was there Busch’s team was on the cusp of something if everything went there went with four top-10 finishes in the first eight races.
Now qualified for the playoffs, the emphasis can be more on Busch’s goal of going from good to great.
“With the Next Gen car that’s even put in a different twist, where we’re a new team and the new car is like a clean slate, and it’s a blank white marker board where you’re just trying to draw patterns and find things and throughout all of the data from Toyota and TRD,” Busch said. “The information shared from JGR for me and Billy Scott on that 45 car, we were the last ones as far as all the different apps and systems that they use. So we were going to school — we were a group of freshmen and everybody else was seniors with the amount of knowledge that everybody had within the JGR and Toyota system. So we had to go to work and had to find those rhythms, but also work within the new impound sequences.
“The rules with NASCAR, you show up, this is what you have. And then it’s like, OK, well, how do we get better and unload better and have a better 20 minutes of practice? Because I’m used to hours of practice and hours of debrief sessions, and now things happen so quick. And with me and Billy, really, we have a good simulator and we have to find certain sequences in the sim, which it’s still not as real as you want it to. But it’s a tool to use and that’s been the most gratifying part, is just trying to uncover everything and look through it, filter through it.
“Then these last couple of weeks, things have slowed down and we’re making good decisions and the pit crew, they’re holding serve. So those are things that we have to continue to build on and make sure we’re at that top-notch level.”