NASCAR: Bubba Wallace, No. 23 Team Struggling to Find Success This Season Because of Recurring Problems on Pit Road

by Bryan Fyalkowski

It is no secret that Bubba Wallace has been incredibly snake-bit this season. The 28-year-old NASCAR driver of the No. 23 Toyota Camry has only had one finish better than 10th in 2022, and it is largely due in part to trouble on pit road.

During last week’s Ally 400 at Nashville Superspeedway, NBC flashed a graphic that showed seven different instances this season of Wallace’s “pit road problems.”

Specifically in Nashville last week, Wallace posted the fastest speed in practice and was running in the top-10 near the halfway point of the race. During a pit stop under caution, the crew left a wheel loose. It caused Wallace to lose a lap while he returned to pit road to get it tightened up.

A video posted by NASCAR on social media shows the absolute disgust that Wallace had with his crew chief, Bootie Barker. After all of his problems on Sunday night, Wallace battled back and finished in 12th. It was his third-best result of the season.

“He’s beat down and frustrated,” Barker said in an interview with The Athletic. “But you got to look at what he did at the end. We flipped the script to give him track position and he held them off from old tires and got a decent finish out of it. So regardless of what he says, he still battled.”

Bubba Wallace’s Recurring Problems with 23XI Team

CBS Sports’ Steven Taranto pointed out the main reason why Wallace’s pit crew specifically is having trouble. 23XI Racing actually does not have oversight of this pit crew, and instead is leasing them from Joe Gibbs Racing.

“As many problems as the 23 team has had, there’s nothing even anything worth saying anymore,” 23XI teammate Kurt Busch said. “This is a Joe Gibbs Racing supply issue.”

The 43-year-old Busch is something of a mentor to Wallace, and is trying to help him better handle his frustrations.

“I’m like: ‘Hey, man, I’ve been here and I’m right there with you. I’m a racer and I’m passionate, too.’ We just have to get to that next level of professionalism,” Busch told NBC Sports recently. “Everybody’s circling around on what the real core issue is. And that’s the consistency on the pit stops with the 23 team. Bubba’s right, but we just got to get that problem fixed. And we got to handle it the right way.”

The NASCAR Cup Series rolls on this weekend with the Kwik Trip 250 at Road America in Wisconsin. The race begins at 2 p.m. CT on Sunday, June 3. Ally 400 winner Chase Elliott is the odds-on favorite to take the checkered flag at +500. Bubba Wallace, meanwhile, is way down the list – tied for 27th at +50000.