23XI Racing announced Tuesday that they have signed Tyler Reddick to drive for the team beginning in 2024, scoring a major coup in acquiring one of NASCAR's brightest young stars and sending shockwaves throughout the Cup Series landscape.
The announcement came during a regularly scheduled media conference call held by Toyota, in which 23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin served his normal media obligations before Reddick revealed himself and the announcement was made to unsuspecting members of the press.
"Just seeing where 23XI has started and where they're going, it's been very obvious to me that the ramp that they're on and how they're improving, it was very exciting for me. And I wanted to be a part of that," Reddick said in a report by NASCAR.com. "Also … just talking to Denny and getting to watch and see the direction the team was going, where Toyota is and their commitment to the sport, to NASCAR, to this team, they're all very exciting things, and I really wanted to be a part of it. And that heavily influenced my decision."
Reddick will join 23XI after beginning his Cup career at Richard Childress Racing, which he recently confirmed he would drive for again in 2023. After moving up to Cup in 2020, Reddick has carried the banner for RCR over the last several years and scored his first career win at Road America less than two weeks ago.
Speaking to the media, Reddick said that his announcement should not come as a "total" shock to RCR. However, a statement released by the team in reaction to the news of their driver defecting for 23XI suggested that the organization was less than thrilled.
"We're proud of the success Tyler Reddick has found at Richard Childress Racing," read the statement. "We're focused on winning a championship in 2022 and 2023, although [the] timing of this announcement could not be any worse."
With a full year and a half left before Reddick formally joins the team, it is currently unknown exactly where he will fit within 23XI's current roster. According to Bob Pockrass of Fox Sports, 23XI will likely remain a two car team in 2024, but team president Steve Lauletta indicated that a contract extension for driver Bubba Wallace is currently in the works.
Though Kurt Busch will return to the team's No. 45 Toyota in 2023, the 2004 Cup Series champion's age has made him the natural subject of retirement rumors -- he will be 45 years old by the end of the 2023 season. In spite of that, Hamlin stressed that Busch would have a ride at 23XI as long as he wanted to drive.