Why Isn’t Bubba Wallace Racing for 23XI Racing in the Busch Clash?

Rising NASCAR star Bubba Wallace’s time to shine at 23XI Racing has arrived.

When the 2021 Cup Series season kicks off with the Daytona 500, Wallace will be there in the No. 23 car. Wallace is now racing for Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin at 23XI, and the expectations are understandably high.

Although Wallace will be behind the wheel at Daytona, he won’t be driving in the Busch Clash. Here’s why Ty Dillon, and not Wallace, will technically be the first driver in 23XI history.

Bubba Wallace is now at 23XI Racing

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Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan have made Bubba Wallace the face and future of 23XI Racing, a new racing organization.

On paper, that appeared to be the right move. Wallace is one of the sport’s most popular figures — he is still the only Black driver at the Cup Series level — and is a rising star on the race track.

Wallace, 27, spent the last first four seasons of his career at Richard Petty Motorsports. In his first 110 races, Wallace recorded nine top-10 finishes and no victories.

Wallace placed 22nd in the Cup Series standings last year, his best finish so far.

Why isn’t Bubba Wallace racing at the Busch Clash?

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Barring any last-second health issues, Bubba Wallace will be behind the wheel for 23XI Racing at the Daytona 500.

However, that won’t be the first overall race for 23XI. The company’s No. 23 Toyota will participate in the Busch Clash on Tuesday, February 8, and Wallace won’t be driving.

According to NBC, Wallace is ineligible for the exhibition event because he does not have any of these on his resume.

  • A 2020 Busch Pole Award winner
  • A previous Busch Clash winner
  • He is neither a previous Daytona 500 race winner nor a Daytona 500 pole winners who ran full time in 2020
  • Wallace did not reach the Cup Series playoffs last year, win a single race, or win a stage during the Cup Series regular season, all of which would have made him eligible for the Busch Clash

Instead, Jordan and Hamlin have tasked Ty Dillon to drive in the Busch Clash. Dillon is eligible because he won the opening stage in a playoff race at the 2020 Charlotte Roval.

Dillon, who turns 29 on February 27, finished 26th in the Cup Series standings last season. He is a part-time driver in the Cup Series and Xfinity Series.

Wallace will make his 23XI Racing debut at the Daytona 500

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If Bubba Wallace pulls off some magic and wins the Daytona 500 on Sunday, he’s going to make some bettors extremely happy.

According to Odds Shark, Wallace only has +2500 odds to win the Daytona 500 as of Feb. 8, 2021. He and Matt DiBenedetto have the same odds.

Denny Hamlin, who has won consecutive Daytona 500 races, remains the odds-on favorite at +600. Chase Elliott, the reigning Cup Series champion, and Ryan Blaney are tied at +900.

Betting odds courtesy of Odds Shark as of Feb. 8, 2021. How to get help: In the U.S., contact the National Council on Problem Gambling helpline at 1-800-522-4700.