Race Weekend Central

Dropping the Hammer: 23XI Racing ‘Best of the Rest’ at North Wilkesboro

NORTH WILKESBORO, N.C. – There wasn’t much 23XI Racing could have done to keep the unstoppable force that was Kyle Larson from winning at North Wilkesboro Speedway Sunday night (May 21).

If the NASCAR Cup Series were to ever come back to the .625-mile track?

“Just wreck [Larson] on lap 1, it’s fine. Take him out of contention and then you go fight with everybody else,” Bubba Wallace joked after he placed second to Larson by 4.5 seconds.

It was Larson’s night, as the Hendrick Motorsports driver led 145 of the race’s 200 laps in an event that had only one caution for an incident, less than 20 laps in.

See also
Kyle Larson Dominates North Wilkesboro For 3rd All-Star Win

But Wallace and 23XI Racing teammate Tyler Reddick were the “best of the rest,” finishing second and third as Larson won his third All-Star Race, all of them at different tracks.

“We just didn’t have the full potential that we needed,” Wallace said.

Wallace, who earned his best career All-Star result, said he knew from his first lap in practice Friday that the exhibition would come down to the team’s “long-run efforts.”

However, Larson “was lights out.”

“Those guys they’ve been hitting it on the head really all season,” Wallace continued. “So to run second to them is not a bad thing. But to run second in [the] All-Star Race sucks, right? You go home with nothing.”

Wallace lamented that if his team had “a full day to go back to the shop” before the weekend’s main event “it would have been nice.”

“I think we could really nail some things and get closer to the bottom,” Wallace said. “But to keep our name in the mix and in the hat is super important for us. And momentum train is still real, it’s still rolling. So pumped for our team.”

As for the entertainment value of the race, Wallace said he didn’t “know how it looked on TV or from the stands” but that he “enjoyed passing cars and throttle management. It took you back to I’m guessing what it was like back in the ’90s.”

For Reddick, the first-year driver with 23XI Racing completed the podium after starting the night in 20th.

He rose through the field after the No. 45 team used a similar pit strategy following Ricky Stenhouse Jr.‘s early spin.

“Feel like we needed those 30-plus long or longer lap runs to really get going in the right direction,” Reddick noted. “Once that would happen, our car would come to life.”

Reddick, who was one of the three drivers to take part in a tire test at North Wilkesboro earlier this year, pointed to the Next Gen car as being the culprit of the less than stellar product Sunday night.

“Certainly, I had a feeling on Friday when we were practicing, if you get about one back from another car on even tires, it’s like, ‘oh, man, it’s the same thing at Martinsville and all those other places,'” Reddick said. “It’s just the car. And I think everybody has ideas and certainly NASCAR wasn’t a better product. So we’ll see what the future holds.”

About the author

Daniel McFadin is a 10-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He currently works full time for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette and is lead reporter and an editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR podcast "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" presented by Democrat-Gazette.

You can email him at danielmcfadin@gmail.com.

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jdquick

Hey, talk about a obscene hand gesture from the “Best of the Rest” and no one has the balls to talk about it. The wonder man gave the finger to the watching world when Jamie Little was trying to interview him. How low is that from that idiot. When will someone take him to task? Guess never, he is CRAPCAR’s chosen one isn’t he. If it was anyone else, they would be setting for a couple weeks and pay a hefty fine. Not the chosen one, he is strictly hand off. I call BS on CRAPCAR and you writers that have no balls to go after him.

SS

Hey, talk about somebody clearly not seeing that Bubba was doing it to someone off camera and stopped as soon as she started to interview him… and the fact that plenty of drivers have “flipped the bird” on tv yet nobody cares till Bubba does it. You want to talk about an obscene gesture? Some idiot hacked into Bubba’s radio frequency and told him to “go back to where he came from” after the checkered flag flew. Don’t talk about things you don’t understand.

Hogs&Horsepower

One thing I’ve noticed as a Bubba fan this year is that the slow start wasn’t as prolonged as it was in 2021 and 2022. As this point last year, before his hot summer, Bubba was 22nd in points, currently he’s 15th +23 to the playoff cutline. First 6 races weren’t good(1 T10, 3 DNF’s) but in the 7 races since then he has 5 top 12, 3 top 10’s, 2 top 5’s(plus a top 5 in the ASR), and would’ve had a top 15 at the least at Richmond if not for a safety violation penalty on his pit crew on the final green flag stop. The only other finish outside of the top 12? Talladega where he was less than a lap away from winning before making a poor block. 23XI is primed for their best year yet. Reddick has been fast and Bubba is confident. Some good tracks upcoming for the #23: Charlotte, Nashville, New Hampshire, Pocono, Atlanta, Michigan , Daytona all before the Playoffs, and Kansas in the Rd of 16 with Dega in the Rd of 12. Call me crazy, but if Bubba manages to get into the Playoffs, he could have a Briscoe-esq Cinderella run to the 2nd or even 3rd round. Briscoe and Bubba had nearly identical statlines last season, only issue was that Briscoe’s win came before the Playoffs while Bubba’s was in the Playoffs.

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