Bubba Wallace wasn’t happy with his second-place NASCAR Cup Series finish to winner Kevin Harvick last weekend at Michigan. He likely was even less satisfied with his top-15 result, 13th and a lap down, to the same winning driver this weekend in Richmond.
Still, the driver of 23XI Racing’s No. 23 Toyota Camry TRD has to be pleased to secure his immediate future with the team started by NBA basketball legend Michael Jordan, driver Denny Hamlin and their backers.
The team announced last Friday August 12th, that Wallace, 28, has signed a multi-year extension to remain with the team that he joined in September of 2020 as the first driver for this squad. He brought 23XI Racing its initial victory in the fall, Talladega Superspeedway race last season and earned the team’s first pole award at Michigan Internatiional Speedway this year.
Wallace has played an integral role in the team’s growth: “Bubba was a key part of the early stages of 23XI,” noted Hamlin, “and I am thrilled that he will continue with the team. When we announced Bubba as our first driver, the goal was to help him take his career to a higher level, and we have done just that.
“Bubba and the No. 23 team earned the organization our first win and first pole award, and with a career-best four consecutive top-10 finishes heading into Richmond, Bubba is continuing to get more competitive each week,” Hamlin confirmed. “We’re excited to see his growth as he and the team work toward achieving our goals.”
Wallace has been one of the more aggressive proponents of NASCAR’s diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts to expand both NASCAR’s industry and fan base to include people of color. He’s worked on special initiatives to bring more people who look like him to the track, either to work or to play.
His embrace of programs like the Dr. Pepper 23XI Speed Institute Tuition Program, Embrace Home Loans’ Wider Path Home/23XI Racing Down Payment Assistance Grand and Bubba’s Block Party, a program that aims to bring the excitement of NASCAR to a younger, more diverse audience appears to be paying dividends.
Through his Live to be Different Foundation, Wallace’s back-to-school backpack drives in the Charlotte area, and his discussions with the Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP), brings students to racetracks throughout the country. He also has clothing design collaborations with team sponsor McDonald’s and with Columbia Sportswear Company that have brought NASCAR awareness to a new audience.
“It feels great to get this renewal done and to know I have a home at 23XI Racing,” Wallace said. “Thanks to J.J. and Denny for continuing to believe in me. We’ve come a long way together in less than two years and we’ve checked off some major goals along the way – including the teams first win and first pole. We know we still have work to do, both on and off the race track, but I feel good about our team and the direction we’re heading.”
Bubba Wallace and the No. 23 Toyota Camry will work to gain their first road course this weekend at Watkins Glen International; the condition of teammate, Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 45 Toyota Camry, who has missed four races with concussion-like symptoms, is unknown at this time.