The 23XI Racing team was built with high expectations on their back and in their first season in the Cup Series, they have met one of their goals.
While the target for the team is to make it a household name and a team that competes for wins and championships, 23XI Racing is slowly trying to exert its mark in NASCAR’s top tier. They couldn’t get multiple wins as they wanted nor compete in the playoffs but they did manage to get their first win in their first season in operation.
In terms of his racing stats, Wallace is not the name that comes in the bracket of elite racers but in terms of his presence, he is certainly among the most popular in the series. He is the only Black driver in NASCAR’s Cup Series and infact is the first Black driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race since Wendell Scott in 1963.
He is thankful for the opportunity granted to him by Michael Jordan, which he has repaid in some capacity this season.
“M.J. stepping up in a way that he did for me has been — you know, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to thank him enough,” he said. “Just this opportunity this year and moving forward. He gave me an opportunity to shine and put my best foot forward.”
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When Jordan comes up, the first thing that comes to mind is his basketball career. But he didn’t just step into the NASCAR industry without any knowledge. Wallace said that Jordan “watched [NASCAR] just about every weekend” and the transition to a better understanding of the NASCAR industry was not hard for him.
“So we didn’t really have to teach him much. We had to help him get a better understanding for things but it’s been a lot of fun working with him and his team getting everybody’s feet underneath themselves to make sure we’re all doing this right way,” he said. “There are so many people involved that we could be here all day thanking them. But it’s cool having M.J. — one of the biggest names in the world, that I’m associated with. I definitely don’t take that for granted.”
Having an NBA icon and one of the best current drivers in the Series as the owner has certainly helped the team to a good start in terms of marketing aspects, but in terms of racing aspects, it all depends on Wallace to get the team to the next level. Having given them a win, they have the right mix to be an important team in the Cup Series for years to come.
“I’ve watched that race probably 100 times now” – Bubba Wallace is still basking in glory after first Cup win