NASCAR: Bubba Wallace Label’s 23XI’s Struggles This Year as ‘New Team Blues’

by Josh Lanier

Bubba Wallace was singing the praises of his new teammates and owner when he joined 23XI last year, but after a disappointing season, he’s singing the “new team blues.”

With only three races left in the regular season, Bubba Wallace is 21st in the NASCAR Cup Series standings. He’s effectively out of the playoffs without a win and a good bit of luck. Despite averaging a 20th place finish in races this season, Wallace says the stat card doesn’t give the full story.

“We all want to win, of course,” the 27-year-old told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, according to FTW. “That’s why we’re here. That’s why we show up every week, is to win. But there’s been a lot of things in our control and out of our control that have taken us out of having really good finishes.

“Have we had a winning car this year yet? No. Maybe for Daytona, yes, but other than that, we’ve had some top-5 moments. We’ve had a lot more top-10 moments than we’ve shown on paper, but it’s just been the new-team blues.”

Wallace said his team is still learning to work together. But he accepted some of the responsibility for the rocky first season.

“It’s not 100 percent execution, and that’s what takes us out — whether it’s my fault or the team’s fault. But at the end of the day, we’re all in it together, so it’s those growing pains that you have to get through. …

“We started on page one for 23XI Racing. It’s an honor for me to build that, but with that comes a lot of frustration, a lot of pressure, a lot of trying times. But when you surround yourself with the right team like we have, it makes those situations a little bit easier to navigate through.”

Hamlin Said Bubba Wallace Should Improve

Team 23XI co-owner Denny Hamlin said he felt Bubba Wallace was hitting expectations for this season earlier this year. But he added that he expected to see the team improve as the year progressed. That hasn’t happened, at least in terms of finishes.

“I think that they’re on a good progression. Early on in the year, they were running somewhere between 16th-20th. I think that that’s definitely gotten much lower, three to five spots as the year has gone on,” Hamlin told CBS Sports in June. “We actually haven’t reached half a portion of the year quite yet, so I think that we’re pretty close to where I thought that we would be. But that should get progressively better as the year goes on. So overall, they’ve met expectations thus far.”

Hamlin is currently tied for first place with Kyle Larson in the NASCAR Cup Series point standings.

Team 23XI co-owner Michael Jordan hasn’t spoken publicly on his young star’s performance. But before the season, he made it clear that he wanted Bubba Wallace to win races.

“We don’t sign checks to losers,” he joked.