The 2020 season was a groundbreaking one for Bubba Wallace as the NASCAR Cup Series’ only African American driver gained notoriety like never before as he became one the loudest voices for racial justice, inclusion and equality following the tragic death of Minneapolis resident George Floyd in late May.
Wallace also didn’t do anything to hurt himself on the race track, recording a career-best points finish and number of top-10 finishes. His reward was the opportunity to leave Richard Petty Motorsports for a new team, 23XI Racing, that not only has the support of Toyota and famous team owners Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin but also has the backing of several marquee sponsors and a close technical alliance with powerhouse Joe Gibbs Racing.
With all of those factors, Wallace has the best opportunity he’s ever had to succeed at NASCAR’s premier level.
Not since Jimmie Johnson won the last of his record-setting five consecutive championships from 2006-2010 has a driver captured back-to-back titles in NASCAR’s top series. Will it finally happen again in 2021?
Considering how strong Chase Elliott performed in 2020, and considering he only seems to be getting better with time, there’s no reason to believe the second-generation driver won’t have at least a fighting chance at repeating.
Back with Elliott for this season is his 2020 championship-winning crew chief, Alan Gustafson.
“He’s got the intelligence and the experience of someone much older and wiser, so he acts like he’s a 35-year-old in his prime,” Gustafson said. “He’s very similar to the great champions I’ve worked with before (most notably, Jeff Gordon), and he’s going to be every bit as good or better.”