Dale Earnhardt Jr Surprised at Michael Jordan’s Employee’s Oblivious Reaction Amid Ingenuity by Crew Chiefs

Published 09/09/2023, 2:31 PM EDT

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The playoff starter at Darington was certainly was a thriller for the fans. It had all the elements of a runaway hit, like drama, action, and an unexpected ending to top it all off. However, the race at Darlington had an awkward moment around the halfway mark. So much so that even Dale Earnhardt Jr decided to talk about it on his podcast.

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Apparently, this bizarre stint didn’t affect Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing driver. He wasn’t even aware of what had just happened, being so intensely focused on the race. Reflecting on this, NASCAR veteran Dale Earnhardt Jr revealed his fascination with Jordan’s team’s ability to stay unfazed by the sudden development.

Dale Earnhardt Jr appreciates Michael Jordan’s team’s sharpness

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Last week’s race at the 1.3-mile Darlington track certainly was a nail-biter for Hendrick Motorsports fans. Kyle Larson, the generational talent, became the first driver this season to cement his place in the round of 12. While the #5 driver got his sought-after win, the NASCAR nation witnessed NASCAR’s vulnerability.

However, Larson, taking the chequered flag, wasn’t the only highlight of the race. Surprisingly, passing the halfway mark, at lap 189, the floodlights on the track went off, nearly blinding the drivers.

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Turn 3 of the short track was the most affected, with one side in darkness and the other illuminated by the remaining lights. While the commentators and fans noticed this sudden disruption, not many drivers were aware of it. And one among them was Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing driver, Bubba Wallace. In fact, the driver was so dead focused on the race that he only noticed it when his spotter, Freddie Kraft, told him.

Speaking on the Door Bumper Clear podcast, Kraft relayed the hilarious reaction of Wallace when he told the 29-year-old about the development.

Reflecting on this incident, this week’s Dale Jr Download also touched upon the incident. Joining his co-host, Mike Davis, Dale Earnhardt Jr said,I’m surprised that some of the guys couldn’t tell the lights were out. That’s for sure because we could see it from where in the booth. But the other thing too is how crafty the spotters are not to even mention it because they are seeing their drivers run along, trying to get the yellow, so that’s crafty man.” 

The drivers’ focus fascinated Davis. The veteran JR Motorsports co-owner commended the sharpness of the team, especially the crew chief. He said it was clever not to let the other teams know of it over the radio, considering how it can give the competition a slight edge. Clever stuff that you only think about, right? While it was happening in the booth, we were like, is there no conversation on the radio about this and there wasn’t a lot, so there was an oddly limited amount of chatter.”

WATCH THIS STORY: Denny Hamlin lashes out a Michael Jordan’s driver for ruining his Darlington performance 

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Despite the crew chief’s “craftiness”, Bubba Wallace’s team got a stiff penalty from NASCAR

The #23 driver finished the race decently with a 7th-place finish. However, as the action moved to Kansas Speedway, things certainly didn’t look good for the team. With just hours remaining for the highly anticipated speedway race, the sanctioning body penalized Wallace’s crew chief, Zachary Marquardt because the #23 Toyota failed NASCAR’s pre-race inspection twice.

Marquardt remained on the sidelines for the rest of the race weekend. This sudden development also forced the team to forfeit pit-stall selection for the main race. Despite all these issues piling up, there was something that still assured Wallace fans. And that was his dominant streak at the Speedways, including a spectacular runner-up finish in the Spring earlier this year.

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Unfortunately, the results were really a mixed bag for Michael Jordan’s team. While their #45 driver, Tyler Reddick, went on to win the race, their #23 car driver finished in 32. While this is Wallace’s first playoff appearance in his career, do you think he would make the most of it and advance to further rounds?

Massive Playoff Blow to Michael Jordan’s $150 Million NASCAR Team at Kansas As Bubba Wallace Pays Detrimental Price for Deceit

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Written by:

Kishore R

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Kishore is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With a degree in engineering, Kishore's love for automobiles, particularly the roaring naturally-aspirated V8s, naturally led him to NASCAR. Kishore's writing is characterized by his intense passion for the sport, as well as his ability to conduct in-depth research and analysis.
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Vishav

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