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NASCAR: John Hunter Nemechek a candidate to join 23XI Racing

John Hunter Nemechek is expected to be a candidate to join NASCAR's 23XI Racing if Kurt Busch retires. Plus, 23XI Racing has contingency plans without Reddick.

Austin Konenski
Syndication: Daytona Beach News-Journal
David Tucker/News Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

John Hunter Nemechek is no stranger to racing at NASCAR’s top level and there is a possibility that he may find himself in those shoes again if Kurt Busch decides to retire from his head injury suffered in 2022.

Let’s dive into the recent developments surrounding 23XI Racing for the 2023 NASCAR season.

23XI Racing has contingency plans for Kurt Busch’s possible retirement

NASCAR: Ally 400 Qualifying
Jun 25, 2022; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Kurt Busch (45) stands at his car during qualifying for the Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The idea of Busch retiring is not one that 23XI Racing is actively wishing upon; however, it is clear that his health is the number one priority moving into the upcoming months.

If Busch is healthy and medically cleared, he is expected to return to action. But, if the 44-year-old driver is deemed unfit to race next season, that would likely end his career in NASCAR.

23XI Racing hopes to continue with Busch and Bubba Wallace until Tyler Reddick joins the organization starting in 2024. Team owner Denny Hamlin has contingency plans in case Busch decides to hang it up.

“We still feel like (Kurt Busch) is going to run next year, if he doesn’t, we’ve already got contingency plans for the No. 45 car. If (Tyler Reddick) was pushed to the side, I think we would take him. But, I don’t know that we need to get into pushing to get him early.

Denny Hamlin on Kurt Busch and the 2023 NASCAR season

This is notable as the idea of Reddick joining one year earlier is not out of the question. But, it seems that it would take Richard Childress Racing not going through with its plan of having a third chartered car for Reddick.

Hamlin talked about Reddick and his desire to finish what he started at Richard Childress Racing under his current contract.

“(Tyler Reddick) has really said, and I believe it, that he wants to live out his contract at RCR. Mostly, he wanted to do it for his team and his guys. With him being taken out of the No. 8 car, I don’t know if that changes, but I know Tyler wanted to end what he started there.”

Denny Hamlin on Tyler Reddick

There could always be a change of heart or plans, but it seems like Reddick wants to continue in his final year with Richard Childress Racing. The possibility of a buyout could always happen but it might not make sense for 23XI Racing.

Why would 23XI Racing and Toyota buy out Reddick when he is already set to join the organization in 2024? The idea would not be the greatest and unless Reddick doesn’t have a ride with Richard Childress Racing, it’s smart not to push.

If Reddick is not involved, what are the contingency plans in case Busch retires before the start of the 2023 season?

Related: 23XI Racing gives critical updates about its NASCAR future, Kurt Busch

NASCAR: John Hunter Nemechek is one of the candidates for 23XI Racing

NASCAR: Truck Series Dead On Tools 200
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Nemechek is a Toyota driver and that is an important note to pass along when discussing where he will end up for the 2023 season. His current team, Kyle Busch Motorsports, is set to move over to Chevrolet next year.

It seems pretty likely that Nemechek will not continue with Kyle Busch Motorsports for that very reason. In fact, it doesn’t make sense for him to stay in the NASCAR Truck Series in general.

The entire Joe Gibbs Racing fleet in the NASCAR Xfinity Series is open, not including the No. 26 car for Sam Hunt Racing that could be an option for him in 2022.

However, Nemechek is expected to be a candidate for the No. 45 car at 23XI Racing if Busch retires from his concussion and Reddick stays with Richard Childress Racing for the 2023 season, according to FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass.

The 25-year-old has been through a lot in his young career but 23XI Racing would represent his best opportunity yet. Plus, there is no guarantee that Nemechek would be a seat filler until Reddick comes to the organization.

23XI Racing hopes to expand to more entries in the future and that could come as early as the 2024 season. If Nemechek impresses during his possible tenure in the No. 45 car, it could open the door for him to stay there long-term.

Nemechek went to Kyle Busch Motorsports to rebuild his career and image with Toyota Racing. He is proud to be a Toyota Racing driver and it would be a full circle moment for him.

The threat still looms that Reddick joins the organization one year early over Nemechek; however, the possibility of the 25-year-old making it back to the top would be an incredible story.