Bubba Wallace’s motto is ‘No more excuses’ as 23XI Racing takes shape for 2021 season


Shortly after the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season ended – and with it, his time at Richard Petty Motorsports – Bubba Wallace went on a road trip with his girlfriend and his dog.

But even as he relaxed, the biggest chance of his career was not far from his mind.

The chance to drive for both one of NASCAR’s biggest stars and an icon in basketball and pop culture.

The chance to drive without having to worry about sponsorship dollars.

The chance to drive with the sole focus of winning races, week in and week out.

Next season, Wallace, 27, will drive for 23XI Racing, a new team co-owned by fellow Cup driver Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.

Already aligned with Joe Gibbs Racing, 23XI revealed a stacked sponsorship lineup Monday to back Wallace and his No. 23 Toyota, which will be fully funded for its first season on track.

And when the calendar turns to 2021, Wallace’s mindset will turn to making it all pay off.

“It’s Dec. 14 right now, so it’s 17 more days until Jan. 1 – that’s when my new motto of ‘No More Excuses’ starts,” Wallace said on a Monday video teleconference with reporters.

“So, for 17 more days, I’m gonna have every excuse in the book. But after that, there’s no more excuses why we can’t run up front and compete for wins and show the true talents that I believe I have … If Jan. 1 was (the Daytona 500), then I’m ready for it.”

Shortly after saying that, one of his new bosses quickly jumped in.

“We’re not ready yet,” Hamlin said with a laugh.

While Wallace is raring to go, Hamlin and the organization’s interim president, Steve Lauletta, have been building 23XI daily since its formation was announced in September.

With Hamlin chasing a Cup championship this past fall, he relied on Lauletta, the former president of Chip Ganassi Racing for more than a decade, to lay the groundwork for the organization.

The help has been invaluable to Hamlin, who says his level of concern has dropped from “probably an eight-and-a-half out of 10” a month ago to “like a five, maybe four-and-a-half” now.

“(Lauletta) created a great priority list of what we needed to work on now, what we could defer, and essentially, him and his group have done a phenomenal job of getting that done and easing my anxiety,” Hamlin said.

“Trust me, I’ll be the first one to call him or text him at 10 o’clock at night and ask for some kind of update. But he’s always got the right answer, it seems.”

Hamlin, who expects 23XI’s first car to be delivered in early January, said he also is receiving late-night correspondence himself.

“I got a text actually from a couple of team guys who were at the shop at 10:40 last night,” he said.

“(They were) waxing the floors, painting the walls. They’re just really working hard on making sure this team’s ready once that first car gets there.”

From Lauletta’s perspective, his own anxiety has stemmed from inevitably forgetting something during the rapid build for 23XI toward its February debut at the Daytona 500.

“The major buckets of things we need to address have either all been addressed or are in the process of being addressed,” he said. “But for me, personally, it’s that couple of things where at some point, I’m going to go, ‘Aw, heck, how did we forget that?’ and then we’re behind.

“The challenges when you start building a team on Oct. 1 is that the window of fixing things and adjusting things is so, so small. If you were able to have a few more weeks to work on everything, it would’ve been that much easier. But we’re dealing with what we have.”

Even so, he said the process of building 23XI “couldn’t have been any smoother as of now” thanks to the help from all involved.

“Now, it’s just trying to get to Daytona and make sure it stays on the same path.”

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.