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23XI Racing expresses interest in hiring this popular NASCAR driver

23XI Racing has expressed interest in hiring this popular NASCAR driver for a one-off race. Who is this driver and which races should they run?

23XI Racing
John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

23XI Racing debuted at the beginning of the 2021 season with Bubba Wallace in the No. 23 car. Since that point in time, the organization has grown in a major way. This includes the introduction of a second car at the start of the 2022 season.

The race team led by NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan hired Kurt Busch to drive the No. 45 car. Unfortunately, Busch would suffer a concussion during a qualifying session at Pocono Raceway and has not gotten back behind the wheel.

Tyler Reddick replaced Busch in the No. 45 car; however, the third year of 23XI Racing’s existence introduced the NASCAR world to a third car. The No. 67 car is only part-time but the names being linked to the entry are starting to pile up, including a former NASCAR driver.

Related: 23XI Racing talks about Travis Pastrana’s future with the organization

23XI Racing ‘interested’ in hiring this popular NASCAR driver for a one-off race

23XI Racing
Feb 19, 2023; Daytona Beach, Florida, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Travis Pastrana (67) pits during the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

23XI Racing is only growing and while the team is expected to have two full-time cars for the 2024 NASCAR season, there is a third, part-time car available. The No. 67 car has been driven by Travis Pastrana in the 2023 Daytona 500 with Kamui Kobayashi up next in Indianapolis.

The third entry was prepared in an effort to accommodate Busch if he were to be medically cleared from his concussion. For 23XI Racing, it is also good to get a look at how the team would operate with three cars during the week and weekend.

The No. 67 car has started to gain popularity like the No. 91 car for Trackhouse Racing. PROJECT91 is a program that brings international drivers to NASCAR. The program has brought Kimi Raikkonen to the sport with Shane van Gisbergen getting a shot at the Chicago Street Course.

Now, 23XI Racing’s third entry is starting to receive more hype and it may not be done yet. Hamlin talked about a former NASCAR driver’s interest in returning to the sport on his podcast, Actions Detrimental, and dropped a few interesting bits of information, including the interest in hiring them for the No. 67 car.

“I have talked to (Carl Edwards) early on when we started (23XI Racing) about doing some one-off stuff. I’d be interested in that for sure. He does some similar work for us — he’s done some Chicago stuff for us at (Joe Gibbs Racing)…I talked to him at that NASCAR 75 celebration and he’s itching a little bit. I think he does miss it for sure, so we’ll see where this goes…Don’t think this story ends anytime soon.

Denny Hamlin on 23XI Racing’s interest in Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards, Hamlin’s former teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing, has been in the news recently as he has not closed the door on a return to NASCAR. It doesn’t mean that Edwards’ return would be imminent; however, the possibility exists.

The 43-year-old former driver previously said he would need to go all-in on the idea of a one-off race. Edwards also said it is becoming harder and harder to not race as he continues to move forward after his retirement.

It is notable that Edwards has done work for Joe Gibbs Racing on the simulator which could indicate that he is easing his way back into the sport. Still, nothing has been planned for Edwards at this point and the door has not been closed.

If Edwards were to make his NASCAR return in the NextGen car, the easiest route would be with 23XI Racing as they have already expressed interest. Therefore, which races would make the most sense for the former Joe Gibbs Racing driver and 23XI Racing?

Related: Kurt Busch provides big update on return to NASCAR Cup Series with 23XI Racing

3 races that 23XI Racing should bring the No. 67 car for Carl Edwards

NASCAR: Goodyear 400
May 14, 2023; Darlington, South Carolina, USA; Carl Edwards pre-race at Darlington Raceway. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

If Edwards did make his return to NASCAR with 23XI Racing sometime in the future, there are a few races that make sense overall. One of them is the race track that he has already done some simulator work on for Joe Gibbs Racing.

The Chicago Street Course would be a good option for Edwards, even though road courses were not his best style of racing when he was a full-time driver. The street course will go down in NASCAR history as the sport has never competed on that kind of race track in the past.

While Edwards may not be in the best position to win in this scenario, it would be fun to see him take part in the event in the future. Obviously, this would need to take place during the 2024 season as the first annual event is scheduled for this weekend.

Darlington Raceway should be the top choice if Edwards wanted to do an oval track. The venue provides electric racing and allows the drivers to have full control. This would be something that fits right into the former NASCAR driver’s style.

In fact, Edwards talked at Darlington earlier in the season and expressed his love for the race track as he loves sliding around on the race track. This would be a great option and one that many fans would love on a possible throwback weekend in 2024.

Finally, it is hard to leave out Nashville Superspeedway as it used to be one of Edwards’ best race tracks on the NASCAR calendar. He earned the nickname “Concrete Carl” due to his six victories at Nashville as the racing surface is made of concrete.

Edwards went to Nashville when NASCAR was in town as he was the first driver inducted into the track’s new Legends Plaza. It would be a full-circle moment if 23XI Racing could field the No. 67 car in the event next season.

NASCAR would be ecstatic to see Edwards return to the sport, even for a one-off race, after he shockingly retired before the 2017 season. There are plenty of options available when it comes to race tracks but it is up to Edwards if he wants to return to the driver’s seat.

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