Bubba Wallace still retains the voicemail Michael Jordan left him following Wallace’s Cup Series win. The NASCAR Hall of Fame currently houses his winning Toyota, but it will eventually be his to show.
Wallace was thrilled with his win at Talladega Superspeedway in October, despite the rain delay. Now he wants more. Wallace is a legitimate threat and will be back at Talladega on Sunday to race, but 23XI Racing has to contend at all tracks on the NASCAR schedule.
“The chance to win any race is very high.” In an interview with The Associated Press, Wallace stated that there are many races beyond Talladega or Daytona we can look forward too. “We have races we look forward too throughout the year. That’s something that is different from years past. Your mind will shift tenfold when you just show up and know that there is an opportunity.
This has been the kick Wallace needed for his fifth season at NASCAR’s top level. Wallace finished third in Richard Petty Motorsports’ three-year history with just three top-five finishes, and he led 34 laps over 108 races.
His life was changed when Wallace, the Cup Series’ only Black driver, made a public statement on social and racial injustice. As NASCAR was the only major sport competing during the pandemic, Wallace’s position was magnified and companies noticed: Wallace brought in new sponsors to NASCAR in DoorDash and Columbia Sportswear, which helped Denny Hamlin, a three-time winner of the Daytona 500, start a team around him.
Hamlin convinced Jordan to join him as co-owner. 23XI Racing, despite its expected growth pains, helped Wallace improve all his statistics. He finished 21st on the standings, and equaled his career high of five finishes.
23XI now has two cars and Kurt Busch, a former Cup champion, has joined its ranks. Wallace, the Next Gen racecar has been fast. He started the season by finishing runner-up to Austin Cindric at the Daytona 500. He was also in contention for the win at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but a late accident dropped him to thirteenth.
Wallace stated that his Atlanta crash was the most devastating of his entire life. He felt sore in his shoulder, which he had previously had surgery on during the offseason. It took him four days to get back to feeling fit again.
He was able to get back in his No. Wallace was eager to get back in his No. 23 Toyota.
This is part of a deliberate shift in Wallace’s attitude that he has made this year, and it is what he applies every time he arrives at the track. Wallace is determined to be completely engaged with his race team, regardless of whether he is taking part in a tire test at Charlotte Motor Speedway or at a track where he has historically struggled.
Wallace stated that his career path changed from driving winning trucks for Kyle Busch Motorsports for two years to slogging it out in the Xfinity Series with Jack Roush’s struggling team.
He said, “It was simply showing up and the effort that you put into was good enough to get 15th.” It was like, “Well, what’s point in trying harder?” I now feel like I broke that mold. I see it now and I live it. That’s all you need to boost your confidence.
Amanda, his fiancee, has helped him along his journey. Amanda is more positive than Wallace about the speed bumps in his path. Amanda is with him at almost every race. She was part of the launch by McDonald’s of a new line in racing-related streetwear and has been busy planning their wedding for New Year’s Eve.
Wallace stated, “I just signed the checks,” but she is still searching for a photographer.”
Wallace has taken the most significant step in his NASCAR career. Amanda was as calm as Wallace, but he can’t help but give Amanda all of the credit.
He laughed. She can sometimes make me mad because I’ll be ranting about something and she will respond with, “Well, let’s see why it happened that way.”
“She sees things differently and it makes it easier to appreciate the fact that you can see things from another person’s point of view. Although we are polar opposites, it works out well. It’s great to be with her.”