Bubba Wallace and the newly established 23XI Racing team have already made some noise at Daytona International Speedway this week.
The team, founded by three-time Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin and NBA icon Michael Jordan is making their NASCAR Cup Series debut in this Sunday’s 500.
So far, Bubba Wallace has put the car atop the leaderboard in the first practice session of Speedweeks before placing the fourth-quickest time in pole qualifying.
That result would put the 27-year-old on the outside of the front row in Duel #2 where he led three laps and nearly won the qualifying race. After taking the lead with a three-wide pass down the backstretch, he was unable to block a charge from Austin Dillon exiting Turn 4.
Dillon cut to the inside of Wallace and snagged the victory by just 0.057s.
Austin Dillon, Richard Childress Racing, Chevrolet Camaro
Photo by: Nigel Kinrade / NKP / Motorsport Images
The effort netted Wallace sixth in the official starting lineup for the 63rd running of the Daytona 500, the best starting position of his NCS career. However, Wallace was left disappointed with what could have been and lamented the mistakes he made during the 60-lap event.
“A lot of mistakes,” he admitted. “A good debut, but nothing to be really happy about for myself. It’s okay for drivers to be hard on themselves. That’s how we motivate ourselves to go out and do better. Hats off to my guys – the 23XI team – for building me a great DoorDash Toyota Camry. I tried to do all I could to help (Martin) Truex there, get Toyota a win. I appreciate Kyle (Busch) for cutting me a lot of breaks.
“I know I’ve got a lot to learn here, but all in all, it was a good night, but I’ve got some learning to do.”
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