Bubba Wallace had high expectations heading into the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season after a strong second half in 2022. The 29-year-old would admit his No. 23 team fell short of those expectations at the during the first eight races of the year.
That has to change, according to team manager Bootie Barker, and there will be no excuses in the races to come with the 23XI Racing rider heading to tracks where he has had considerable success in recent years.
Bubba Wallace in trouble at the start of 2023
Bubba Wallace has admitted he is the most confident he has ever been before the start of the 2023 season. Unfortunately, that confidence hasn’t translated into results.
After a 20th-place finish at Daytona, a track where he’s been successful in the past, the driver headed west, and things got worse before they got better. Wallace recorded a 30th and DNF at the Auto Club before rallying the following week for an encouraging fourth place in Las Vegas.
He followed that run at Sin City with a 14th at Phoenix, but since then things have been tough for the #23 team. finished 27th and 37th respectively.
He scored a 22nd at Richmond and had his second-best result of the year last week on clay in Bristol, where he finished 12th.
Team leader says ‘no excuses’ for upcoming races
Although Wallace was tough on himself for his own mistakes, it’s a team sport and his team let him down on several occasions, including a late pit road penalty in Richmond that erased any hope of what looked like a top 10.
This week, crew chief Bootie Barker appeared on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio and spoke about the season, including the struggles. Despite these issues, he said he was encouraged by the team regularly bringing a fast car to the track and recognized that speed must translate into better finishes.
“I would say most of the time we definitely picked up speed,” Barker said. “We as a group, however, the #23 car, have to improve. We have to extract the finishes from that speed. I feel like we will. We will.
“I’m not saying this stretch of trails (in the past) was necessarily our favorite as far as our group goes, but that’s no excuse. You must run them. You must do good. We better deal with it here. These are no excuse places for us. Waiting for them.
Wallace has found success on tracks in the past
Looking at the next four tracks and how Wallace has played them in the past, you understand Barker’s optimism. They include Martinsville, Talladega, Dover and Kansas.
Starting with the trombone, the 23XI Racing rider posted his career-best result on the half-mile track last year in the fall, finishing eighth. Talladega will always have a special place for the driver and his fans as it was the site of his first Cup Series victory in 2021. Of all the tracks, Dover is where he had the least success, finishing 11th in 2021 , his best result .
Wrapping up the four-race streak is Kansas, where the driver held off team co-owner Denny Hamlin last year and won for the second time in his Cup career.
With so much success recently, Wallace is rightly optimistic about the upcoming races. Sound familiar? It will be interesting to see now if the driver and the team can convert this optimism into results.
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