Bubba Wallace may have been eliminated from NASCAR Cup Series Playoff contention as far as a driver’s championship goes, but the 23XI Racing driver will be an integral piece of the puzzle if the organization’s No. 45 entry goes on to score the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Owner’s Championship.
With Kurt Busch still out of the car, due to injuries sustained in a qualifying crash at Pocono Raceway back in July, the team has decided to move Wallace from the No. 23 car to their No. 45 entry for the remainder of the season, in an effort to give themselves the strongest chance to secure the Owner’s Championship.
23XI Racing made the announcement of moving Wallace to the No. 45 with a press release on Wednesday.
“After consulting with NASCAR, we made this decision in the best interest of the entire organization and for all our employees who helped earn a spot in the playoffs for the Owner’s Championship through their hard work,” said team president Steve Lauletta. “While Ty has done a great job for us in the No. 45 car, we feel that Bubba’s experience in this car, at the upcoming playoff tracks and his recent momentum will give 23XI the best chance at maximizing our points each weekend. We recognize that this is a unique opportunity in the Cup Series, and we’re grateful to our employees and partners for standing with the team and supporting this decision.”
The release from 23XI Racing states that aside from the number changes, no other changes would be occurring to the primary partners on either race car. This means that crew chief Bootie Barker and the entire No. 23 team will essentially be re-numbered the No. 45 for the final 10 races of the 2022 season.
Ty Gibbs, who has filled in for Busch since Pocono, will move over to the No. 23 entry until Busch is able to return.
While Gibbs has performed admirably in relief of the ailing Busch, as he has scored a top-10 finish, two top-15s and four top-20s in six starts with the team, Wallace gives them a higher level of success at the NASCAR Cup Series level.
The Alabama-native scored his first NASCAR Cup Series win at Talladega Superspeedway last fall, a track that will be in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, and he has really had some top finishes in recent months.
Since New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July, a span of seven races, Wallace has racked up three top-five finishes, including a third at New Hampshire and a runner-up finish at Michigan, and has only finished outside the top-15 once.
The No. 45 23XI Racing team locked into the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Owner’s Title Playoffs with Kurt Busch’s race win at Kansas Speedway back in May.