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Michael Jordan’s Promising Protege Stumbles Under Pressure Despite Career-Best Performance

Published 09/26/2023, 2:49 PM EDT

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On a day marked by searing speeds and sizzling Texas heat, a dazzling duel between the star drivers of Rick Hendrick and Michael Jordan resulted in twisted metal, the roar of the crowd, and lingering what-ifs. The clash unfolded at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway, a battlefield of horsepower, where titans clashed and hearts broke in a thrilling Round of 12 opener. The proverb “everything’s bigger in Texas” echoed loud and true, painting a vivid tableau of ambition and destruction.

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In the aftermath of the race at Texas Motor Speedway, NASCAR analysts Jeff Gluck and his colleague Jordan Bianchi discussed the day’s events. And conducted a driver-by-driver assessment of the 12 contenders remaining in the championship hunt. 

Texas Showdown Where Ambition Meets Destruction


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Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace divided 210 circuits out front of the 267-lap event, their cars flying like arrows through the air. However, the fierce combat led to Larson crashing into the wall with just 19 laps to go. It was a surreal dance of steel and smoke, leaving the crowd gasping and the drivers lamenting what could have been.

During a recent podcast, Jeff Gluck stated, “Well, let’s talk about what happened in the race today. You know, Bubba Wallace starts off and by the way, I mean he led 111 laps today. Previous best in his career was 80 laps and that was a Richmond earlier this year. That was a short track. So, when you go back to, you know, an intermediate track, I think the most he had led was 50-something laps.” 


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“That was his Kansas win last fall, so really, I mean, this was a race that was really big for him. Now, you know, unfortunately for him, both stages, at the end of the stages, he sort of fades back and loses his track position and really only comes away with a few stage points, which really hurt him.”

“But then you go, well, okay, maybe he’s still going to win the race. But once he doesn’t, it ends up putting him below the cut line by two points.” Jeff added about the ace of Michael Jordan.

Gluck further stated the loss of stage points, even with a solid third-place finish in the first round of the playoffs, left him trailing behind in the championship hunt. His disappointment was evident as he blamed himself for what he perceived as a mistake during the final restart, allowing Chase Briscoe and eventual winner William Byron to pass him.

WATCH THIS STORY: Bubba Wallace Receives a Five-Word Ultimatum From His NASCAR Team Employee Just Hours Before Billionaire Michael Jordan’s Approval

But what did Wallace have to say about his disappointing Texas race? 

The star of Michael Jordan Reflects on Texas’ Final Restart

Bubba Wallace, starting on the pole, commanded the tracks but found himself in the eye of the storm, losing the lead and getting ensnared in a tumultuous three-wide battle post-restart. Despite these trials, he clinched a third-place result, his zenith at Texas and for the 2023 season, but the joy was a far cry from what filled his racing heart.


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“Can’t have the worst restarts when you’re the best restarter and that’s what happened. Briscoe got tight underneath me and I just lost all my momentum.”

“The best defense mechanism is to pack air on somebody’s left-rear and that shoves the outside car up and it just gave Byron a massive run so I should’ve just held my line into [Turn] 3 instead of chasing down and just gave it away there.” Wallace of 23XI Racing, owned by Michael Jordan, stated after the race. 


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Hold your breath! The Lone Star State witnesses high-speed heartbreak. Wallace’s journey is a rollercoaster of daring moves and regretful reflections, a symphony of roaring engines and silent thoughts! To Kyle Larson’s crash!


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Written by:

Brahmi Dhaytadak


One take at a time

Brahmi Dhaytadak is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. She combines her love for F1, Tennis, and NASCAR into electrifying prose that sets the hearts of her readers racing. Whether it was the finesse of Charles Leclerc's maneuvers around Monaco or the artistry of Roger Federer's racket, everything inspired Brahmi to venture into the field of sports journalism.
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Edited by:

Nischal Kandpal