NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace brought home the first-ever top-five and first top-10 finish in the history of 23XI Racing on Sunday.
Heading into the doubleheader at Ponoco this weekend, Wallace and 23XI Racing had a season-best 11-place finish. They improved upon that and made history with a solid showing on Sunday. Safe to say it has certainly been an emotional day for Bubba Wallace and his crew. But out on the track, it was a tough go for just about all of the Cup Series drivers.
In the closing laps of the Explore the Ponoco Mountains 350, Wallace found himself among a group of drivers who were trying to stretch their fuel to the checkered flag. According to Wallace, his crew chief, Mike Wheeler, asked him to save two laps of fuel after Wallace contacted the wall early on due to an aero push.
“That kind of put us behind so we knew we had to pull some strategy,” Wallace said. “I knew our car was good enough to be top 10 and execute. I didn’t know it was gonna come down to a nail-biter for fuel, but great call by Wheels, JR [Houston, engineer], everybody back at the shop that’s punching numbers, helping us calculate throughout the weekend. It’s a good day. Good weekend.”
Bubba Wallace and 23XI Racing Getting Hot at the Right Time
Sunday’s performance makes it four top-15 finishes in Wallace’s last five starts. It has been quite the turnaround from the struggles that plagued the No. 23 team early in the season.
“Looking at today, it did come down to fuel mileage,” Wallace admitted. “A lot of people ran out, but we had a strategy and we stuck to it. Everybody knows [in] NASCAR that strategy is a part of it in some way, some fashion. Our race is usually get caught up by a caution and the strategy goes out the window. So we executed the way we should.”
Bubba Wallace and his team over at 23XI Racing know that haven’t gotten the kind of results this season that they were hoping for. But Wallace says that his larger-than-life owner, Michael Jordan, understands that in NASCAR, it takes some time.
“Everybody talks about he’s a winner. He’s a champion. Yeah, but he’s also a realistic person,” Wallace explained. “He wants to win for sure. But he knows what it’s gonna take for us to get there. [His presence is] more for me. It’s more for the team. It’s more of a group effort. And he’s in the background watching enjoying it. He”‘s hooked. Having Michael Jordan hooked to NASCAR is huge. And it’s getting a lot of other big names hooked as well. That’s what the sport needs.”