Bubba Wallace and team co-owner and NBA legend Michael Jordan both predicted two wins for the 23XI Racing Team before the start of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. Through 17 races, Wallace hasn’t had a single top-10 finish, much less a sniff at victory lane.
At Sunday’s race in Nashville, Wallace didn’t have the best of days, spinning out twice. After bringing out his first caution of the day, his frustrations got the best of him, and the driver of the No. 23 didn’t mince his words when he blamed NASCAR for his problems in a profanity-laced tirade.
Bubba Wallace has had an up-and-down season
After a 17th place to open the season at Daytona, Bubba Wallace didn’t exactly impress during the first month of the season, his highest finish a 22nd at Homestead. The 27-year-old rebounded for a 16th place in Phoenix, but the top 15 remained elusive.
Outside of the results, Wallace’s driving style even ruffled the feathers of team co-owner Denny Hamlin at Talladega. Hamlin complained over the radio about Wallace’s lack of cooperation with his Toyota teammates, and it was something he saw happen at Daytona, as well.
At Dover, Wallace finally cracked the top 15 with an 11th place in the 13th race of the season. The following week he came back down to earth when he suffered his worst finish of the season, a 39th at a wet Circuit of the Americas, where he wrecked early. Since that disappointment in Texas, Wallace finished 14th at both Charlotte and Sonoma, a clear indication that the 23XI Racing Team is headed in the right direction.
Bubba Wallace goes off and blames NASCAR for his spin
With three top-15 finishes in his last four races, Wallace entered Sunday’s race at Nashville Superspeedway confident. In addition, Nashville provided a level playing field for the drivers since the Cup Series hadn’t raced at the track since it opened in 2001.
After qualifying 21st, Wallace managed to stay out of trouble for the first part of the race while numerous cars experienced brake issues. Then, on lap 132, Wallace brought out the caution when he ran over debris on the track, which cut his left rear tire, and he lost control of the car and spun. He was not happy.
“They didn’t clean up f—— rotor parts on the front stretch. Piss poor job by them,” Wallace said over his radio. “F—— pathetic. … We have s—– f—— races because they didn’t do their job. Right here. Right here under the flagman’s f—— nose.”
Wallace has been spinning a lot lately
Unfortunately for Wallace, he’s become quite familiar with spinning in recent weeks. Last week at the All-Star Open at Texas Motor Speedway, Wallace sat in fourth place in the first round when he lost control of his vehicle without any contact, effectively ending his chances of advancing to the All-Star Race.
On Sunday, the spin after running over debris wasn’t the only time Wallace brought out the caution. With 83 laps remaining, he made slight contact with Michael McDowell and spun out into the infield grass.
Despite both of those incidents — and to Wallace’s credit — he rebounded and managed to finish 20th.
[Correction: A previous version of this article misstated the history of Cup Series racing at the Nashville Superspeedway.]