Dale Earnhardt Jr Reveals How Bubba Wallace Proved Him Wrong This Year

Published 11/11/2023, 4:09 PM EST

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After having a disastrous start to his 2023 season, Bubba Wallace pulled off an impressive comeback. Eventually, the 23XI Racing driver succeeded in making his career’s first-ever playoff appearance. While he achieved that, he certainly proved Dale Earnhardt Jr wrong.

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Without a doubt, Wallace has struggled with consistency throughout his Cup Series career. However, this time around, he proved his detractors wrong by entering the playoffs and continued doing so for a few more weeks. With a 10th-placed finish this year, a lot would be expected of him come the 2024 season.

Bubba Wallace impresses hesitant Dale Earnhardt Jr with his 2023 performance

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It is no secret how Bubba Wallace comes under scrutiny more easily than many other drivers. A similar scenario was observed in the early stages of the 2023 campaign. Wallace struggled with his form then and there came a time when he even demanded to be replaced.

While that wasn’t a healthy phase for the Alabama-born driver, he did not give up. With a fighting spirit and much-needed support from his family and boss Michael Jordan, he bounced back stronger than ever. After making it to the playoffs for the first time in his career, Wallace stunned plenty and more so when he progressed to the Round of 12.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr recently acknowledged the #23 driver’s change in form on the latest episode of his podcast, The Dale Jr. Download. He said, “I will say this was an improvement. I know statistically you could argue whether it was an improvement or not.”

Junior added that he believed Wallace might struggle with Tyler Reddick’s arrival to the team. He said, “When I saw Tyler Reddick come to this team 23XI, I thought, Tyler Reddick is going to really drive Bubba Wallace to have to achieve more. That’s gonna put pressure on Bubba.”

However, he was quick to accept that it didn’t turn out to be the case, saying, “It’s been different than that. It’s not really worked out like I expected. They’ve actually run somewhat similarly. And many times, Bubba Wallace has performed better. Bubba had some amazing qualifying efforts this year and ran well at other races that traditionally he hadn’t run at.”

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Junior also explained where Wallace managed to improve his game in 2023. He said, “[Wallace] improved at the road courses throughout the season and also at other racetracks where he struggled. So Bubba Wallace to me, took a big step forward in just becoming an overall better driver. I guarantee you his laps-led tells a better picture of his season, average season position, all that stuff, huge improvement.”

Having sung praises for Wallace, Dale Jr had some tough words for Tyler Reddick.

Dale Earnhardt Jr remains unconvinced with Tyler Reddick’s performance in the 2023 season

It is public knowledge how close Dale Earnhardt Jr and Denny Hamlin are. The 23XI Racing co-owner even talked with Junior about Tyler Reddick before signing him. While Dale Jr remained unsure back then, he still needs some more convincing in this regard.

Speaking about Reddick, the 49-year-old said, “Tyler Reddick, 2 wins, 460 laps led. I’ll be honest man, I was expecting just a little more. I’m not super disappointed with Tyler’s season, sixth in points, and sort of gelling with the new team. A new organization but, Denny Hamlin sold me on his talent, his ability. He’s like, ‘Man, for 23XI to become this dynasty, we gotta make this hire, we gotta make this kind of hire.'”

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Dale Jr added, “I will be okay with this year if Tyler can go into next season and win me 3 or 4 races and push toward that final 4, that championship 4. Then maybe I will look at this year like, hey man, good solid start to a long long tenure with 23XI.”

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While it is an interesting take from Dale Earnhardt Jr, it remains to be seen how both Bubba Wallace and Reddick perform in 2024. With a positive 2023 campaign, both drivers would count on only getting better from here on.

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Written by:

Priyank Mithani

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One take at a time

I was a little kid when Dale Earnhardt said, “The winner ain't the one with the fastest car, it's the one who refuses to lose.” Years have passed and those words could not be more true. Having grown fond of motorsports at a young age, I’m strongly addicted to the adrenaline rush the sport offers.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal

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