The start of the NASCAR season has not been kind to Bubba Wallace, who has yet to finish above 16th place in any of his eight early races.
Wallace is competing with 23XI Racing, which is in its first year of existence and is co-owned by Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin. While he’s been honest about the need for improvement, Wallace has also been consistent in his message that the team is making steady progress.
He reiterated that point in a videoconference with media on Friday, ahead of this weekend’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.
“It’s only a matter of time,” Wallace told reporters, via NASCAR.com. “All cylinders are not firing at the same time, but we’re hitting all of them. They’re all kind of sporadic, so it’s like once we get that out and hit it together, there’s a lot of potential with this team, and I continue to say that. That’s one of the most exciting things is, ‘can it be this weekend?’ and that’s what you go into like, OK, we showed some highlights of success, we know what to build back on when we come back. Richmond’s going to be a good weekend. I can feel it.”
Wallace also spoke about what it is like racing for the legendary Jordan. On the basketball court, Jordan was the ultimate competitor and someone who couldn’t stand losing.
“He understands motorsports a little different,” Wallace said. “He had a superbike team. You know you can’t win every race. Having Denny as co-owner there is managing expectations, and from the sounds of it, talking with Denny, we are exceeding expectations that they kind of had set in place before the season started. After our good runs, I’m getting a text from MJ saying, ‘Good job, kid.’ It’s stuff like that’s like, that’s pretty cool.”
After signing Wallace during the winter, Jordan made it clear he had faith in the 27-year-old’s skills and future in the sport.
“I think he presents a great opportunity. Not just as an African-American, but in terms of talent,” Jordan said back in February. “He’s someone who aspires to be good. All you have to do is support him.”
We’ll see how Wallace performs in today’s Toyota Owners 400, which gets underway at 3 p.m. ET on FOX.