Despite Being Called Out by Denny Hamlin on Painful Slump, Bubba Wallace Joins Joe Gibbs’ Star’s Class

Published 07/16/2023, 11:31 AM EDT

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The race for the playoffs is on. With the clock ticking away and only seven races left to complete the regular schedule, there is a sense of urgency and desperation on the track. Of course, the drivers at the upper ends of the points table have sealed a spot for themselves. But the pressure falls on the drivers who have yet to qualify. Bubba Wallace finds himself in the same intense situation currently.

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Since his string of great performances in May, his form has dropped considerably. The difference in making any impact on a race is quite clearly visible. It was just a few days ago when 23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin spoke about the slump in Bubba’s performance levels. Taking note of all the criticism about him, Bubba has shown a strong result in the New Hampshire practice session.

Promising show in practice for Bubba Wallace and 23XI Racing

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The final practice session in New Hampshire was underway yesterday. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. continued his excellent season run and recorded the best lap average over 10 laps. A surprise entry for Michael McDowell brought him to the top of the charts for the fastest lap. The 23 XI Racing duo of Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace also joined Ross Chastain, Truex, and McDowell in the top 5.

Being in the top 5 will boost the #23 driver’s hopes of getting some more value out of the race than the last few races. The Michael Jordan-owned team will be pleased with the positive display from their drivers. Since the Coca-Cola 600, Tyler Reddick has not finished higher than 27th in a race. Due to this, he also sees his position on the table drop from seventh to 13th, a worrying statistic had he not had a win this season. But with a win at the Circuit of the Americas, he provided himself with the luxury of leeway for poor racing.

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On the other hand, Bubba is having to make ends meet to make his qualification a reality. Last weekend’s race in Atlanta shuffled the point standings a bit, which saw Bubba Wallace out of the playoff spots, and the entry of Atlanta runner-up Daniel Suarez and Michael McDowell to the spots.

Coming into Hampshire Motor Speedway, the point gap between Bubba and the cutoff mark is quite doable. Trailing by three points, this Sunday will be vital for the Alabama native to get his season back on track.

However, Denny Hamlin has had some concerns about Bubba’s slip in form and has been vocal about them. But from the looks of it, he is ready to bet on his drivers, who are confident of making a turnaround in New Hampshire.

Bubba and Denny Hamlin are confident of a good race on Sunday

This week was a big reflection moment for everybody on the 23 team on how we need to execute better. Mistakes at this point in the season, there’s really no excuse for it, whether it’s my fault on track or the crew’s fault in preparation. We just have to be better as a team moving forward to even think about the playoffs,” said Bubba, voicing his thoughts about the team’s inconsistency this season.

In the month of May, if we include the top-5 finish at North Wilkesboro for the All-Star Race, Bubba recorded four top-5s in a single month. That’s a regular influx of important points to keep the season going. But ever since, things have not gone quite right. Having finished third at this venue last year, he has fond memories and an urge to repeat a performance of the same level.

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Hamlin had a more cautious and critical analysis of the situation, emphasizing the need for everyone on the team to take their efforts to a new level. With the situation so precarious, they cannot afford to make any mistakes that derail any of their drivers seasons.

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“Everyone has got to get better for sure. I would say when you look at how we break it down, the team certainly needs to take the biggest jump forward on performance. If we do that, I think our drivers are good enough to do it.” said Denny, speaking to NBC in New Hampshire.

Watch This Story: HMS Legend Destroys Bubba Wallace After Disappointing Michael Jordan at Chicago

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek

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Ansuman Abhisek is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. As an engineering graduate, he has a strong affinity for cars, and it didn't take long for him to translate that into his love for the sport. He is a big fan of Kyle Busch and believes that the Richard Childress Driver still has his best years ahead of him.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta

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