“Compete for a Playoffs Spot” – Denny Hamlin Discusses Expectations for Bubba Wallace and 23XI Racing in 2021 Season

Published 12/12/2020, 9:12 AM EST
BRISTOL, TN – APRIL 06: Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, prepares to drive during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tennessee. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)


Denny Hamlin may not have a Cup Series title win to his name yet, but he is certainly one of the most experienced NASCAR campaigners on the track. From the start of 2021 onwards, he will also be a minority stake team owner, courtesy of 23XI Racing. The new team will be a single-car franchise, piloted by former Richard Petty Motorsports racer Bubba Wallace.

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Hamlin got to talking about what his and the side’s expectations should be going into the new season.

Hamlin stated, “I (23XI Racing) would like to compete for a Playoffs spot, I think historically you need to be very consistent. You need to be somewhere in the 14-15 average finish to compete. You need to challenge for race wins, I think that that part probably will come.”

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Denny Hamlin wants to coach Bubba Wallace about ‘managing the races’

“For me, it’s going to be really spending time with Bubba about managing the races and figuring out. ‘Okay, what do I have today?’ I know where my car’s at, now I know where my car is, set my expectations for the race. And how can I barely exceed that expectation.”

Naturally, it will be a golden opportunity for Wallace to learn directly from one of the most senior drivers in the sport; and the 44-time Cup race winner emphasized the prospect of furthering Bubba’s learning curve as a driver.

SPARTA, KENTUCKY – JULY 12: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, races Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota, during the NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway on July 12, 2020 in Sparta, Kentucky. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

The Joe Gibbs driver continued, “So it’s managing the race. Kind of going through with him what my processes to preparing for the weekend. Listen it’s no secret that the older guys, they’ve won the majority of the races for a reason.”

Wallace will race his fourth full-time season in the Cup Series in 2021

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“Not winning it because they’re more talented. It’s just your winning is much now on the middle side than your actual talent side. It is trying to get him up to speed and get him wise beyond his actual years of Cup experience,” concluded Hamlin.

TALLADEGA, ALABAMA – JUNE 22: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #43 Victory Junction Chevrolet, speaks to the media after the NASCAR Cup Series GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, Alabama. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Joining a new team will certainly breed expectations, and Wallace himself will be keen to live up to the billing. With good owners and a technical alliance at hand, the team is set up for success in the short and long run.

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Taking mentorship from Hamlin would definitely go a long way for Wallace, as he strives to become the best. It will be interesting to see how this partnership could progress between both drivers, come the new season in 2021.

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Bhargav Gopal

927 articles

Hailing from Bengaluru, Bhargav is an F1 and NASCAR author for EssentiallySports. He is a huge fan of Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing. Bhargav also has an MBA in Sports Management from the Symbiosis School of Sports Sciences, Pune.

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