Bubba Wallace Chosen to Drive a US Air Force Inspired Scheme at Dover

NASCAR Xfinity US Air Force

Xfinity US Air Force NASCAR paint scheme for Dover

Bubba Wallace gets the honor of driving the inaugural Xfinity United States Air Force-inspired paint scheme at Dover Motor Speedway this Sunday, April 28, 2024. Ten races in and Bubba Wallace, who drives the No. 23, an homage to NBA legend and owner of 23XI Racing, Michael Jordan, currently sits in 11th place, 102 points behind Kyle Larson.

Victory or not, NASCAR has posted the paint schemes for the Wurth 400 race at Dover this Sunday, and Wallace’s No. 23 Xfinity/US Air Force Toyota truly stands out.

USAF Sponsors Bubba Wallace

Why will Bubba Wallace drive the inaugural US Air Force paint scheme at Dover? Simple. The Air Force, along with cable provider, Xfinity, is a sponsor of Bubba Wallace and 23XI Racing. An Xfinity spokesperson told Heavy that “the paint scheme is among a number of initiatives Xfinity is rolling out in celebration of Military Appreciation Month.” They added that the Dover race is “the ideal time to unveil both the paint scheme and reaffirm Xfinity’s commitment to the military, veterans and their families given its close ties to the Air Base that is just six miles away from Dover Motor Speedway.”

The paint scheme takes its inspiration from The Flying Tigers, who flew during WWII. The Flying Tigers have an unusal history. As NPR noted, “they were (American) mercenaries hired by China to fight against Japan.” In their short time, the Flying Tigers were highly successful, and as NPR writes, “the group became famous at the time for its ability to inflict outsize damage on Japan’s better-equipped and larger aircraft fleet.”

Dover Will Prove Tough for Bubba Wallace

Bubba Wallace became only the second Black driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series race when he took victory at Talladega in 2021. It was Wallace’s first NASCAR Cup win and the first win for 23XI Racing. It’s unlikely either will win at Dover, as both Wallace and 23XI teammate Tyler Reddick do not have the odds in their favor.

Dover is a high-banked, one-mile, concrete track, noted for its 24 degree banks on the corners. Short tracks are not a strength of Bubba Wallace. Not surprisingly, NASCAR’s oddsmakers do not expect Bubba Wallace to crack the top 10 at this week’s Wurth 400 at Dover, and giving him just 30-1 odds to win. Denny Hamlin, minority-owner of 23XI Racing, however, will likely fair better. Currently sixth in the standings, Hamlin has 410 laps in the top five at Dover in the Next Gen car, according to NASCAR’s stats.

Even if Wallace fails to win, or even fails to finish in the top 10 at Dover, he’s no doubt become an important part of the still-growing 23XI Racing organization. As Chad Smith remarked, writing for the Heavy, team owner Michael Jordan is intent on building a legacy in NASCAR. “Jordan formed 23XI Racing with Denny Hamlin four years ago. It was a surprise to many, but not to those that knew Jordan’s childhood. The six-time NBA champion held a special place in his heart for NASCAR, attending many races as a child.”

According to FOX Sports’ Bob Pockrass, the total payout for the Wurth 400 is $7,992,801. A several-hours documentary on the Flying Tigers is available on YouTube.

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