This weekend is a big one for NASCAR. The Daytona 500 sets the tone for the beginning of the season, Denny Hamlin wants his 23XI team to excel.
With Kurt Busch joining Bubba Wallace this season, 23XI has a team on the track now. A duo that has some great experience in NASCAR and the Cup Series. With the big win last season at Talladega, Wallace is in a position that is almost do-or-die this year. Fans and naysayers want to see some results. He finished 21st last season, his best finish in the Cup Series. It only takes a little effort to move further up.
As for Kurt Busch, last season he was not with 23XI. He did have a very good season that ended with him racing in the Cup Series Playoffs, but was taken out in the Round of 16. He finished 11th on the season, though. With that said, team owner Denny Hamlin wants results this season.
“Winning races, both cars in the playoffs,” Busch said to The Charlotte Observer when talking about season goals. “And for us, making a run through the playoffs to have a shot at the Final Four – that’s what we want to do on the 45 car. There’s no reason to think that we can’t with the information sharing and the technology that we have with Toyota.
“It’s one DNF away,” Hamlin continued. “When you look at the standings for who’s a contender … you can gain a couple [of] spots a week, and on average, change your average finish from 20th to 18th, and you’re there. It’s not that much and you really won’t see that much, and yet, you’ll see a big change in the standings.”
Will the NASCAR season be a breakout for 23XI?
Hamlin Brings New Pieces for NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs Run
While the first official race of the season has yet to begin, Hamlin is focused on getting his team into the postseason. That much is clear from his comments. There’s no one in NASCAR, not a fan or anyone else, that wants it more than those guys behind the wheel, too.
It seems that Toyota is working with the team to bring some advanced analytics to the process. Analytics are all the rage in a lot of spots nowadays, so it makes sense to see them in NASCAR. Racing can be a matter of taking your tangents just right and making the most out of your efficiency. Folks like gutsy racing, but smart and sound racing also gets results and keeps drivers safe.
This 23XI team is going to boast former Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Dave Rogers. Of course, JGR is who Hamlin races for. It also adds Bubba Wallace’s old crew chief, Mike Wheeler, as a competition director. There are all kinds of big names that have helped behind the scenes on other championship teams. That has Kyle Busch is excited about this NASCAR season.
“I’m not just name dropping,” Busch remarked. “We’ve got the right guys in the right places. To gather the information from JGR and work with them and Toyota to make a good run of this and 2022.”