Since joining the 23XI Racing Team for the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season, Bubba Wallace has irritated team co-owner and fellow driver Denny Hamlin on a couple of occasions, including at last weekend’s race at Talladega. This week, Wallace upset Hamlin and several other drivers again at an event not related to racing.
Denny Hamlin calls out Bubba Wallace during Talladega
Denny Hamlin understood heading into the 2021 season that he would be required to walk a fine line between being a team co-owner with Michael Jordan at 23XI Racing and a driver of the No. 11 car. From the outset, Hamlin made it abundantly clear that his top priority was being a driver.
Hamlin revealed where his loyalties lie during this past weekend’s race at Talladega when he openly expressed his frustration with Bubba Wallace, driver of the No. 23 car, for working much of the race independently and not working with any of his Toyota teammates.
“The same thing happened at Daytona,” Hamlin said over his radio.
Wallace upsets Hamlin and other drivers again in a very different setting
Just days after upsetting his boss during the race at Talladega, Wallace was at it again this week at River Run Country Club in Davidson, North Carolina. Wallace joined Hamlin and the Golf Guys Tour, which is a group founded by Hamlin and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. that includes NASCAR drivers and team members playing golf tournaments at a variety of courses throughout the year.
While it’s a good time and a great way to get away from the rigors of racing, it is serious enough to where they keep season-long point standings just like the PGA Tour and NASCAR. Scores are determined based on how the player scores in relation to his handicap.
Since there were no Golf Guys Tour events last year due to the pandemic, the action resumed for the first time this week. Wallace, who was serving as a substitute, shocked the field and won the event. Hamlin admitted on NASCAR.com he was surprised that Wallace managed to pull off the upset.
“He was just there in a fill-in role,” Hamlin said. “We all have our handicap system that we play off of. He shot the best relative to his handicap. So it worked out for him and Hemric, a newcomer as well, he finished second. The new guys, they took it to us.”
Wallace kicked out of golf group several years ago
Wallace started his rookie season in 2018 on a good note, finishing second at the Daytona 500. However, immediately after the race, things took an interesting turn during the postrace interview when Wallace took a swipe at Hamlin for his comments made on a podcast earlier in the week, suggesting that 70 percent of NASCAR drivers take Adderall to stay focused.
Hamlin learned about Wallace’s dig, and the pair engaged in a shouting match in the garage area. Later in the week before the race at Atlanta, the situation took another intriguing twist when Wallace acknowledged he and Hamlin had exchanged a text earlier in the week and he was no longer invited to the extracurricular member-only activities.
“I have been removed from both,” Wallace told Motor Racing Network. “Although, I didn’t get the direct text. It went through like five or six people. That is classy I guess. I have been told the golf league was out. I removed myself from the basketball league just after the conversation we had that day.”
With Wallace’s past history and his recent return to the Golf Guys Tour and, more importantly, his victory, he might never be invited back again.