ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin – Kurt Busch was as surprised as anyone about Chip Ganassi Racing’s NASCAR sale to Trackhouse Racing, but he still had a head start on staying with the team.
Busch, an impending free agent, confirmed he already had informal talks with owner Justin Marks about joining Trackhouse for the 2022 season.
Busch said Wednesday’s news that Trackhouse will absorb Ganassi’s two charters next year “just blends in even closer to home with me being at Ganassi already.
“And now it’s going to have a different name and a branding, and I’m familiar with everybody at Ganassi, so it changes the complexion of how we’ve talked already and what we still need to talk about,” Busch said.
The 2004 Cup Series champion also has been reported as a candidate for 23XI Racing, which is trying to add a second car next season.
During the news conference to announce his purchase of CGR (which takes effect next year), Marks said current Ganassi drivers Busch and Ross Chastain “are the top two under consideration” to be the new teammate next year to Daniel Suarez, who is 18th in points this year in the No. 99 Chevrolet for Trackhouse.
Busch said he didn’t know Marks well but considers him “an entrepreneur-racer that seems to have his head on his shoulders and the ambition to go after ownership in this NASCAR Cup Series.
“It reminds me a lot of when I raced at KBM with Kyle Busch,” Busch, who at 42 is two years older than Marks, said of racing in the 2012 Xfinity Series his younger brother. “You have to surround yourself with good people. Can’t do it all yourself. And to have a young owner, there’s that balance of hey, I’ve got experience in the car but respect your position. We’ll see how things balance out. I’m still racing for Chip right now.”
Busch, who is in his third season at Ganassi and his 22nd full time in Cup, also is weighing an increased role next year for Fox Sports.
He just signed to return as an analyst for the eight truck series playoff races this year and plans to have further talks with the network to discuss the future after Jeff Gordon’s departure from the booth, which Busch said was “another bombshell this week.”
Much respect for @GanassiChip and Felix Sabates on what they have contributed to the sport of @NASCAR for 30+ years. My focus right now is on getting the #1 @MonsterEnergy @TeamChevy into the playoffs, and helping Chip go out a winner. pic.twitter.com/lnVocvspls
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) June 30, 2021
The No. 1 Chevrolet driver learned of the Ganassi sale when he exited a Wednesday session at the GM Racing simulator to 200 messages on his phone.
Though it’s unclear how many Ganassi employees will be retained in the Trackhouse transaction, the uncertainty didn’t impact the Ganassi team Friday at Road America as Busch turned the fastest lap in Cup Series practice.
“You drive harder, push deeper and push harder when news like that comes out,” Busch said. “It was a surprise to me, but all of us at Ganassi looked at each other and said we’ve got a playoff berth right in front of us; let’s go get it. Let’s win and let’s push as hard as we can here right now in 2021.”