gettyimages-1308306641.jpg
Sean Gardner, Getty

Recently, Kurt Busch made it very clear what his plans for his future in NASCAR are when he responded to a fake Twitter account reporting his imminent retirement with the "I'm not leaving" scene from The Wolf of Wall Street. That made it crystal clear that Busch intends to run a 22nd Cup Series season -- now, it's a matter of exactly where he'll do that.

After joining Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019, Kurt Busch's current contract is set to expire at the end of the 2021 season, making him a high-profile free agent still very much in demand: A recent report by Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic stated that Busch, the 2004 Cup Series champion, was the leading candidate to drive a second car at 23XI Racing in 2022. A clause in Busch's current contract that precluded him from speaking to other teams has allegedly expired, allowing him to discuss his future both at Ganassi and elsewhere.

Speaking on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Busch shared that he was "wide open" with his contract situation and current does not have anything arranged for 2022. Busch has fielded calls from both 23XI Racing and Trackhouse Racing -- another first-year Cup team looking to expand -- but is planning to speak to Ganassi about an extension first.

"Talks are gonna start here at Ganassi first. I respect Chip and I respect this team," Busch said. "We'll talk with Chevrolet, Monster Energy, they have a big say in what's going on. As a sponsor, they're out there to win, and to win, and to win - That's all they want, and we're not doing that right now, so we've got to sort through that.

"But yes, other teams are calling. 23XI, Trackhouse, there's all kinds of options everywhere."

Since joining Chip Ganassi Racing in 2019, Busch has won twice behind the wheel of the team's No. 1 Chevrolet and qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs twice, with a best finish of 10th in 2020. Busch and his team have been mired in a slump in 2021, and currently ranks 18th in points after a long top 10 drought: Busch's sixth place finish this past weekend at Sonoma was just his third of the season and his first since Homestead in February.

A full-time Cup driver since 2001 and the longest-tenured active driver in Cup, Busch is now at an age that has become retirement territory for Cup stars in recent years. But while Busch is set to turn 43 in August, he shared that the launch of NASCAR's Next Gen car in 2022 and what that presents for him personally is a major motivating factor in him continuing to race at the highest level of stock ca racing.

"I grew up racing any kind of car, anytime, any place. And this is my 21st year -- why not go another, why not go out there and challenge myself with something new with the Next Gen car?", Busch said.

Should Busch go to 23XI or Trackhouse, he would join those organizations as a veteran complement to still-emerging young stars in Bubba Wallace and Daniel Suarez respectively. Busch currently serves in a similar role at Ganassi, where he is teammates with Ross Chastain.