Is Bubba Wallace’s Job at 23XI Racing in Jeopardy With Tyler Reddick’s Bombshell Announcement?

This week Denny Hamlin dropped a bombshell when he and Tyler Reddick jointly announced that the Richard Childress Racing driver will be joining 23XI Racing in 2024. However, there were no additional details on whether Reddick would drive a third car or if he’d be replacing one of the current drivers in Bubba Wallace or Kurt Busch. 

Kurt Busch leaving makes the most sense simply because of where he is in his career. But is there the potential Wallace finds himself looking for a job with another organization?  

Tyler Reddick joining 23XI Racing in 2024

Most experts said it was just a matter of time before Tyler Reddick finally won his first Cup Series race. It happened earlier this month when the 26-year-old out-dueled Chase Elliott at Road America to claim his first trophy. 

What was interesting about the timing of the win is just 24 hours earlier, the driver acknowledged that RCR had exercised his option for the 2023 season. He would be back in the No. 8 car for a fourth season. 

However, that new deal was puzzling to those paying attention. Why wouldn’t the organization sign a driver with so much promise to a long-term deal and lock him in for years to come? This week we found out why when Denny Hamlin introduced Reddick as the newest member of the 23XI Racing family with a start date in 2024.   

Bubba Wallace’s numbers at 23XI Racing

Bubba Wallace waits backstage
Bubba Wallace waits backstage during pre-race ceremonies prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway on July 10, 2022. | Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Immediately after the Reddick announcement, speculation ramped up on if he might be replacing Bubba Wallace or Kurt Busch. Some suggested the driver of the No. 23 car might be the odd man out because of his performance thus far in the first year and a half with 23XI.

Last year, Wallace managed three top-10 finishes in the 36-race schedule, including a historic victory at Talladega, his first career Cup win. It was a landmark achievement for the driver and the first-year organization. 

In 2022 through 19 races, the 28-year-old has struggled to the tune of two top-10 finishes and five DNFs. However, as has been well-documented, pit crew problems have been a major concern for the team all year. That issue was finally addressed last week when Joe Gibbs Racing made a swap between several crew members on Wallace’s team with Christopher Bell’s team. 

Denny Hamlin pleased with Wallace’s progression

Despite those lackluster results, Hamlin gave Wallace a vote of confidence just minutes after the Reddick announcement when he appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and talked about the breaking news and his current teams at 23XI, including what he’s seen from the No. 23 driver this year. 

“I just want to see steady progression from Bubba,” Hamlin said. “That’s the only thing I’ve said for the last year. And this year, in my opinion, he’s driven the best he’s ever driven. I believe as a team we’ve kind of let him down in a lot of different aspects when he was having good days.

“It goes both ways of course, but in times where our cars have been really, really fast, we just haven’t given him the opportunity to keep his car up front and stay up front to show that he’s got race-winning capabilities. We’re working on that.”

Hamlin’s remarks plainly indicate he’s happy with Wallace’s progress, and understands the pit road issues have adversely affected the results. 

It will be interesting to see if the pit crew issues for Wallace’s team get resolved before the end of the 2022 schedule and, if so, whether or not that translates into improved finishes. Regardless, he will be back in 2023 and more than likely, years to come, racing with a new teammate who will raise the expectations of the organization and, based on his recent history, propelling the team to new heights.

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RELATED: Richard Childress Racing Doesn’t Sugarcoat How It Feels About Tyler Reddick Departing for 23XI Racing in 2024