Bubba Wallace and the 23XI Racing Team have had their fair share of struggles this first NASCAR Cup Series season. Some of them have been of the self-inflicted variety, including Wallace making a mistake behind the wheel or the pit crew having a bad stop. During Sunday’s race at Michigan, the team made its biggest and most embarrassing mistake of the season, and it was in plain sight for all to see.
Bubba Wallace struggles in first season with 23XI Racing
When the 2021 season started, 23XI Racing Team co-owner Michael Jordan set the bar high, suggesting Bubba Wallace could win one or two races in the team’s first season. Co-owner Denny Hamlin was more reserved in his expectations.
History will show that Hamlin was right. Through 25 races this season, Wallace has no wins and a single top-10 finish, a fifth at Pocono. During a recent appearance on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, Wallace admitted the first year has been challenging.
“We all want to win, of course. That’s why we’re here,” Wallace said. “That’s why we show up every week, is to win. But there’s been a lot of things in our control and out of our control that have taken us out of having really good finishes. Have we had a winning car this year yet? No. Maybe for Daytona, yes, but other than that, we’ve had some top-5 moments. We’ve had a lot more top-10 moments than we’ve shown on paper, but it’s just been the new-team blues.”
No. 23 numbering on car upside down
During Sunday’s Cup Series race in Michigan, Bubba Wallace had another middle-of-the-pack finish at 19th. However, it wasn’t Wallace’s performance that racing fans were talking about during and after the race but rather the appearance of the No. 23 car.
There was something noticeably different on the vehicle in Michigan that fans hadn’t seen all year on Wallace’s car or any other car for that matter. The number 23 located on the roof of the car was upside down. Instead of facing the driver’s side and being easily viewable by NASCAR officials and television cameras, it faced the passenger’s side and the fans.
The team acknowledged the mistake during the race, making light of the situation by responding to a post that featured a photo of the car and its upside-down numbering. In the team’s reply, which was creatively written upside down on Twitter, it said: “car still go fast.”
Bubba Wallace & Co. could have received penalty but didn’t
The improper installation of the numbering is a violation of the NASCAR rulebook and could have resulted in a penalty for Wallace and Co. They didn’t receive one. However, Bubba Wallace and his team are no stranger to penalties this season.
Wallace’s crew chief Mike Wheeler has been fined three separate times this season for loose lug nuts discovered in post-race inspections, including in the season-opening race at Daytona.
Last week on the Indianapolis road course, NASCAR penalized Wallace for cutting the corner in the treacherous Turn 6, which was the scene of multiple accidents and destroyed cars.
All things considered, the mistake of upside-down lettering on the car’s roof didn’t affect the team’s performance, but it certainly didn’t help their cause against all those critics suggesting that with so many mistakes this year, Wallace and his team don’t know which way is up. On Sunday, they confirmed that.