NASCAR’s Bubba Wallace signs extension with 23XI, but still has ‘unfinished business’

·3 min read

Bubba Wallace and 23XI Racing will continue their professional partnership.

The 28-year-old Cup Series driver has signed a multi-year contract extension to keep him in the No. 23 car, the team announced Friday afternoon.

“We’ve been working on this contract extension for a while now, and we finally see it come to fruition and get it all done,” Wallace told reporters via Zoom call on Friday afternoon. “I appreciate everyone at 23XI.”

Wallace was part of the inaugural season in 2021 of the 23XI Racing team, which is co-owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan, and he delivered the organization its first win last year at Talladega.

He has appeared to hit his stride these past couple weeks. The driver of the No. 23 car has notched four-straight top-10 finishes and finished second at last weekend’s Cup race in Michigan.

“I think anytime you announce something like this, it’s obviously exciting, and it’s very good for you and your family,” Wallace said. “The team is pumped up. This is huge, so I’m just thankful for the opportunity. And you know, it’s a fitting time for it to come right now. We’re on a hot streak right now. We just have to keep it going.

“We still have a lot of unfinished business to take care of.”

That unfinished business? The most direct of which is the NASCAR Cup Series playoff field that is shrinking by the race. Wallace — on the outside looking in on the field currently — is looking to earn a victory in at least one of the last three regular-season races to clinch a spot in the 16-driver playoff.

“Now that (the signing) has taken care of itself, we can focus on the racing,” Wallace said.

Wallace is in action next at the Cup race in Richmond on Sunday (3 p.m. on USA Network).

Wallace’s signing is significant to 23XI and NASCAR as a whole for a variety of reasons.

For one, the news comes on the heels of another big move for 23XI Racing. The organization in July announced the signing of Tyler Reddick, who’ll join the team beginning in 2024 — a big move in the young team’s ascension.

For another, Wallace is among the most recognizable faces in NASCAR, and as the accolades come he’ll become a household name.

Wallace is the only Black driver on the Cup Series, and he often is called upon to be NASCAR’s spokesperson when it comes to inclusivity and progress. He was the only driver on the stage in Chicago when NASCAR announced it would run its first street race there in 2023. And even in Friday’s availability, he was asked multiple times to speak on his efforts to grow the sport and to reach people of color — which he pleasantly obliged.

One of the topics he was explicitly asked about was the event hosted on Thursday night — the first-ever Bubba’s Block Party at Richmond Raceway.

“This was an idea that came about a few months ago,” Wallace said of the block party event. “What can we do to improve our diversity efforts at the track and improve the at-track experience? And just get more people from minority backgrounds to the racetrack and to participate in our events?

“I was like, why don’t we treat it like a block party deal? Have some food truck vendors. Have some racing simulators. And we happened to have a concert at the racetrack. ... To see that demographic at the racetrack, it was super important and very humbling.”