Despite season best top five finish for 23XI Racing at Pocono Bubba Wallace wants more

LONG POND, PENNSYLVANIA - JUNE 27: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 DraftKings Toyota, exits pit road during the NASCAR Cup Series Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 at Pocono Raceway on June 27, 2021 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Sean Gardner/23XI Racing via Getty Images)

Bubba Wallace was finally able to put a race together. In the first year with his new team 23XI Racing co-owned by Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan the team had yet to finish higher than 11th, that coming at Dover.

Sunday Wallace and the team finished fifth at Pocono Raceway, a huge accomplishment for a first-year organization.

“It’s big,” Wallace said. “A lot of confidence for myself which is huge.”

The second race of a weekend doubleheader turned into a fuel mileage affair with strategies all over the place. Some teams rolled the dice and lost, others, like 23XI won. And Wallace was quick to acknowledge that team.

“I appreciate Wheels (Mike Wheeler, crew chief), J.R. (Houston, engineer), Freddie (Kraft, spotter), telling me what to do – 80% there, 60% here, the whole time,” he said. “It got so annoying, but it worked out. That’s what it takes. It takes a team effort to pull off this.”

“We knew that we had the speed. Bossman was here – MJ (Michael Jordan) was here. We had the whole staff out, so it was a good day. Good weekend.”

Wallace said it was the team that coached him in the closing laps and led to the team’s best finish of the season.

“Freddie (Kraft, spotter), Wheels (Mike Wheeler, crew chief), J.R. (Houston, engineer). They were just telling me 80% here, match lap times with the other guys,” he said. “I knew we were in a worse position than the 18 (Kyle Busch), so we were just racing our race and I was doing as best as I could.”

After the first top five of the season however, Wallace wants more.

“We wanted the Playoffs when we started the season,” he said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. We know that we are in a hole, but it’s finishes like that, that we have to capitalize on the speed in our cars. Today shows what we can do. We’ve got to keep up the momentum.”



Greg Engle