Sunday afternoon, Bubba Wallace got behind the wheel of the 23XI Racing Toyota Camry for his first season with a new team. Several people have major expectations for Wallace during the Daytona 500, including team owners Denny Hamlin and NBA Hall of Famer Michael Jordan. The two men said that they are ready to see Wallace win a couple of races.
The three main 23XI Racing figures met with Michael Strahan prior to Sunday's race, which fans can watch online with a trial, to discuss the future of the team and why they came together for this business venture. Strahan asked what they expect to see this season, and Hamlin quickly replied by explaining that he wants to see progress throughout the season. "Our team needs to get better," Hamlin responded. "I just want to see — from the start of the season to the end of the season — that the arrow is going in the right direction."
This new team has got game and they're here to win.@23XIRacing's Michael Jordan, @dennyhamlin and @BubbaWallace sit down with @michaelstrahan to talk about their hunt for NASCAR success.@Jumpman23 | #DAYTONA500 pic.twitter.com/diKZvsoBxp— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) February 14, 2021
Jordan then took over the conversation and explained that he is nervous about the season, but it's a different type of nervousness than he experienced during his NBA career. He also talked about what he expects to see from Wallace. He expressed the opinion that the 23XI Racing driver will find success throughout the year.
"I feel like he's going to win. He's got the talent," Jordan explained. "We would not have invested in him and picked him if he didn't have the talent to win. By the end of the year, I think he's going to have the opportunity to — and probably will win — at least a couple of races. If it's more, I'll be elated."
While Jordan and Hamlin have high expectations for Wallace, the Daytona 500 did not start out as they hoped. The No. 23 Toyota Camry failed inspection twice due to a rear alignment issue. NASCAR suspended car chief Greg Emmer for the race and sent Wallace to the rear of the field. He had qualified for the sixth position after finishing second in the Duels 2 race on Thursday, but he lost his spot.
The issues continued once the race began. A collision with 62-year-old driver Derrike Cope caused damage to the rear driver side of the No. 23 Toyota Camry. Wallace headed to pit road but was able to return to the track before the end of the caution laps. Though he remained near the back of the field.