23XI Racing, the new team co-owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and veteran Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin, was all the rage entering the 2021 season. With up-and-comer Bubba Wallace behind the wheel of the team’s spiffy-looking No. 23 Toyotas, many expected 23XI Racing to come out of the gate swinging. However, seven races into its debut season, the team is still trying to find its way despite its technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and the many valuable resources it has available from Toyota Racing Development.
“The 23 team is still just a learning-in-progress,” Hamlin recently said. “I had the most painful day yesterday. I’m listening to the 23 team’s debrief in my ears while I’m at the dentist getting my teeth cleaned. It might have been the most painful hour possibly in my life. It was a learning process. I think they know what their weaknesses are. They’ve got to go work on it, but they are going to get better.”
Wallace’s best finish in seven races is 16th, and he is 21st in the standings. Those aren’t exactly the kind of numbers anyone had in mind for 23XI Racing in 2021. Hamlin, however, is optimistic about the team’s future. “I will chip in wherever I can,” the three-time Daytona 500 champion said. “I try to be the best I can to be a great teammate to them, just like the other teammates at JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing). I dedicate a certain amount of time per week to helping out that race team and helping them get better.”