2023 season preview: 23XI Racing
Editor‘s Note: Today‘s 23XI Racing preview continues NASCAR.com‘s countdown of team previews for the 2023 Cup Series season, ranked in reverse order of best finish in last year‘s owner standings.
Engine: Toyota Racing Development
Driver-crew chief pairings: Bubba Wallace-Robert “Bootie” Barker (No. 23), Tyler Reddick-Billy Scott (No. 45)
Team Outlook: After collecting two wins — one from each driver in 2022 (Wallace and Kurt Busch) — the team is enthusiastic about its third season in the NASCAR Cup Series. Expectations remain high, and the addition of Reddick — a three-time winner himself in 2022 — will raise the stakes this season. Both drivers are widely considered to be playoff contenders, and team owner Denny Hamlin says that‘s the outcome he‘d like this season. He noted that the team has had another year under its belt to gel, grow and bond and expects that foundation to pay off.
“Certainly, the performance he [Wallace] had at the end of last year kind of showed what his potential is, so I think both making the playoffs [is a reasonable expectation],” Hamlin said. “Then if they can make it into the Round of 12 and keep going, then that‘s going to be a pretty successful year for us.
“I know it‘s a cliché thing, but I want to continue to see us move up in the standings and our drivers win more races,‘‘ Hamlin added. “We won one in year one and two in year two, so want to keep seeing that growth.”
RELATED: Tyler Reddick joins 23XI Racing for 2023
BUBBA WALLACE, NO. 23 TOYOTA
Experience: Sixth full-time season in NASCAR Cup Series.
2022 stats: 19th in final standings; 1 win, 5 top 5s, 10 top 10s
2023 championship odds (BetMGM): 25-1
Outlook: Wallace comes off a season where he felt definitive progress. His win at Kansas Speedway during the playoffs marked his second career victory and was also important to the 29-year-old driver, he felt, because it proved he could be competitive on venues other than superspeedways, where he has gained so much acclaim. Wallace began the 2022 season with a dramatic runner-up finish in the Daytona 500 and recorded career highs in top-five and top-10 finishes and laps led (150) — doubling his previous best outputs statistically.
“I would say this is the most excited I‘ve been for a season to start just because of the momentum we have and all the changes we‘ve made in the offseason,‘‘ Wallace said. “It‘s shaping up to be hopefully our best year yet.
“We‘ve been able to win the last two seasons but at the wrong time. We didn‘t win for the playoffs and getting into the playoffs, which our team is totally capable of doing now with people in the right place and mentalities now. The work efforts are there, and I just need to go out and do my job and start this year off right.”
TYLER REDDICK, NO. 45 TOYOTA
Experience: Fourth full-time season in NASCAR Cup Series.
2022 stats: 14th in final standings; 3 wins, 10 top 5s, 15 top 10s
2023 championship odds (BetMGM): 12-1
Outlook: 2022 was a breakout year for Reddick, who earned his first victories in the premier NASCAR Cup Series — wins on the Road America and Indianapolis Motor Speedway road courses and then at Texas Motor Speedway during the playoffs. Reddick moved to the team a year earlier than originally planned, with Kurt Busch — who drove the No. 45 23XI Toyota — announcing he would be stepping away from full-time competition at the end of 2022.
While Reddick expects a learning curve with his move to 23XI Racing‘s Toyotas from Richard Childress‘ Chevy team, he is confident he can win and make his second consecutive playoff appearance. This is a young talented driver, after all, who won back-to-back NASCAR Xfinity Series championships in 2018-19 driving for different teams.
Last year Reddick not only became a first-time NASCAR Cup Series winner, but drivers Chase Elliott (five wins) and 2022 series champion Joey Logano (four wins) were the only others to visit Victory Lane more often. Reddick earned career highs in top-five finishes (10), tripling his previous best mark. His 503 laps led was also significantly better than his previous single-season mark of 43 laps out front in 2021.
“As it all is shaping out, this is earlier than we thought it was going to happen but really glad the switch happened when it did,‘‘ Reddick said. “The team‘s got a lot of exciting things, and we‘re growing at a great pace. The vision that the ownership group has, that Denny [Hamlin] has, from a driver‘s point of view, and everyone they have put into place around the team, I‘m really excited about this year and what this year is going to mean for me and for Bubba and really everybody that‘s a part of the organization.”
RELATED: Opening championship odds | 2023 schedule
NASCAR.com 2023 team previews schedule
Jan. 23: Non-chartered and teams outside the top 30
Jan. 24: Spire Motorsports
Jan. 25: Wood Brothers Racing
Jan. 26: JTG Daugherty Racing
Jan. 27: Front Row Motorsports
Jan. 30: Kaulig Racing
Jan. 31: RFK Racing
Feb. 1: Legacy Motor Club
Feb. 2: Richard Childress Racing
Feb. 7: 23XI Racing
Feb. 8: Stewart-Haas Racing
Feb. 9: Joe Gibbs Racing
Feb. 10: Hendrick Motorsports
Feb. 13: Trackhouse Racing
Feb. 14: Team Penske