23XI Racing announced Friday that Bubba Wallace has signed a multiyear extension that keeps him in the driver’s seat of the No. 23 Toyota in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Wallace is in his second season with the organization, which entered Cup Series competition in 2021 with the backing of fellow driver Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan as co-owners.
“This is super cool, and I’ve felt right at home from day one,” Wallace told NASCAR.com. “So it’s nice to continue the relationship, continue the partnerships with our sponsors and keep moving forward. So thankful for the opportunity, for sure. I feel like this has been my best year yet in the Cup Series, and we’re continuing to make strides and get better and better. So I’ve definitely enjoyed the time and glad that we can keep it going.”
The organization did not disclose the length of the contract extension, but the deal keeps Wallace behind the wheel of the No. 23 Camry in 2023 and beyond. Hamlin had hinted in recent weeks that renewing Wallace’s agreement was coming, saying July 30 at Indianapolis that “we’ve got something on the table, and obviously want him long-term with us.”
The 28-year-old driver said he recognized the faith that 23XI management had shown in him, adding that he had not shopped around for a ride elsewhere, focusing solely on sealing his return.
“These guys made a commitment to me, and I made a commitment to them that this is where it all is put together,” said Wallace, who delivered the team’s first victory last October at Talladega Superspeedway. “You know, I want to make this a super-long-term deal. I’d love to retire here — hopefully retirement’s not until like 10, 15 years down the road — but that was that was my goal from day one.”
Wallace’s season to date has been one of measured improvement. He’s already surpassed his season total from a year ago in top-five and top-10 finishes, and he followed up his first career pole last weekend at Michigan with a second-place result.
Wallace ranks 19th in the Cup Series standings, just outside of an already crowded playoff picture. Three regular-season races remain for him to make a last-ditch postseason bid, starting with Sunday’s Federated Auto Parts 400 (3 p.m. ET, USA, NBC Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM) at Richmond Raceway.
“I think where we’re at, we put ourselves behind the front part of the season, and so now we’re playing catch-up,” Wallace said. “It’s super hard to do at the Cup level, right? I mean, everybody’s the best of the best, and you have opportunities like last week in Michigan that … you know, second place was a phenomenal finish for the weekend for our team, but in this scenario, if you’re looking at we’ve got to be in the playoffs because that’s how you win championships then, we didn’t get there.
“So that’s where the frustration came from, because I know our team is capable, I believe, in making a really good run at the playoffs, especially with how (crew chief) Bootie (Barker) and I are on the same level right now, how JR (Houston), my engineer, and I are on the same level and then everybody with us on my road crew. We’re all hitting every stride in the right way. And so, for the future, I think if we just continue to do what we’re doing right now, we’ll really be one of those top teams that we’re talking about every week, so not just popping in and out for speedway races. We’ve been to a handful of different tracks this last month, and we’ve been able to capitalize on that. So it’s been fun to be behind the wheel.”
The organization has undergone significant growth since its formation in September 2020. The group expanded to a two-car operation this season with Kurt Busch as the driver of the No. 45 Toyota, and 23XI Racing made big noise last month by signing top prospect Tyler Reddick to a deal starting in 2024.
The pace has been accelerated, and Wallace has a vested interest in where it goes next.
“It’s definitely been cool to see how fast we’re moving,” Wallace said. “I think that’s Denny’s mindset. He wants to have the best drivers as soon as possible and making this team grow as fast as possible. And MJ is right there, too. Obviously, we know the competitive side of both people there, and it’s a good spot to be, and I’m proud to be a part of it because I feel like I’m just as competitive as those guys.
“So to see the growth of the team, the personnel that we hire on, the partners that we bring in, it’s all made everybody grow together. And that’s been our mindset, that’s been our philosophy, whoever we bring on, we act as one team. We show up at the race track as one team, it just happens to be two different numbers.”
The rest of the playoff quest begins in the coming days at Richmond, where Wallace has already made an impression in setting the stage for the weekend’s entertainment. Thursday at the Virginia track’s neighboring fairgrounds, Wallace hosted ‘Bubba’s Block Party’ in conjunction with NASCAR featuring live performances headlined by Wale.
Wallace has already taken steps to stay involved through community outreach, diversity efforts and with educational and charitable causes. But Thursday’s event marked a new step in drawing in new fans with music, iRacing rigs and a food-truck roundup as part of the pre-race festivities.
“I actually didn’t really know what to expect, the first time kind of venturing out and doing this deal with NASCAR,” Wallace said. “I kind of left it in their hands, and it was actually good to see some of the good things that we could build on, and make it even better for the next one. But I’m really, really happy with the turnout. And obviously, Wale coming in there to perform was just icing on the cake for everybody there. So it was cool, definitely a cool atmosphere.”