Bubba Wallace has made himself into the most polarizing driver in the NASCAR Cup Series. Wallace has become a driver you either love or hate. There is really no in-between. In 2021, Wallace helped debut the new 23XI Racing team that is co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin. The hopes were high coming in given that this was essentially a fifth Joe Gibbs Racing car. How would Wallace fare in his very first season with a brand new start-up team?
The following article continues a FlurrySports series that looks back on the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season from the perspective of drivers and race teams. Read on for season reviews of the lone 23XI Racing driver, Bubba Wallace.
NASCAR Cup Series 2021 Season Reviews | 23XI Racing
Bubba Wallace — No. 23
Bubba Wallace started off the year great in the Daytona 500. However, that quickly went south as he was involved in the last lap wreck and was relegated to a 17th-place finish. After the 500, the 23XI Racing team was extremely inconsistent. They would have a good run almost every week, but something would always seem to happen that would cause them to fall apart. Through the first quarter of the NASCAR Cup Series season, Wallace’s best finish was a mere 16th. He achieved that placing at each of Phoenix, Atlanta and Martinsville.
Wallace Shows Improvement with Top-10 Run at Dover, Top-5 at Pocono
The next quarter of the schedule went a little better for Bubba Wallace and 23XI Racing. He bested the 16th-place finish four times and almost earned his first top-10 of the year at Dover. In the second race of the Pocono doubleheader, Wallace was able to get his first top-5 finish of the year. The success was short-lived as he quickly fell back to his typical finishes in the weeks that followed.
Wallace went into the regular-season finale at Daytona needing a win to make the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. He was in the thick of things as the laps wound down. Unfortunately for Wallace, the race ended under caution and he finished second. He was eliminated from championship contention as a result.
Bubba Wallace Scores First NASCAR Cup Series Win in Rain-Shortened Talladega Race
The last ten races of the 2021 season showed minimal improvement overall for 23XI Racing. There was, however, one major exception to that. In the playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway, Bubba Wallace found himself at the front of the field as the rain began to fall. He did his rain dances to try and keep it coming down. When NASCAR gave official word that the race had been called, the celebration was officially on. Wallace had finally scored his first career NASCAR Cup Series race win.
Veteran Aid on the Way for Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing
Bubba Wallace ended his season with one win, three top-5s and three total top-10s. His final average finish for the season was 19.1 and he wound up 21st in the final points standings. Next year, Wallace will get the aid of NASCAR veteran Kurt Busch when he comes over to drive the No. 45 car for 23XI Racing. Can Wallace take the next step and reach the playoffs in 2022?