The Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway had no shortage of standout storylines. One of the most interesting was the very strong performance by second-year organization 23XI Racing.
The weekend started with full-time driver Bubba Wallace making history for the Cup Series organization. He won the first Busch Light Pole in 23XI Racing, and he secured a spot on the front row. He then went out and led 22 laps before finishing second overall behind Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick.
“Just great job all weekend. [Bubba Wallace] did a great job and Ty [Gibbs] did a great job,” owner Denny Hamlin told NBC Sports after the race. “The whole 23XI team just did a phenomenal job from beginning to end and they gave him a rocket.
“This was a well-put-together weekend for all of them. It’s Dave Rogers, it’s Mike Wheeler, it’s Billy Scott helping set up both of these cars. It’s just a lot of puzzle pieces that those guys are starting to do right and have good results.”
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Ty Gibbs Continued His Run of Consistency
Ty Gibbs, for comparison, made his third start as an injury replacement for Kurt Busch. He started 11th in the No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD, and he led two laps. The Xfinity Series regular avoided issues for the third consecutive week before he posted the first top-10 finish of his Cup Series career.
There have been near-constant discussions about Gibbs and his Cup Series future, especially with Joe Gibbs Racing continuing to seek a sponsor and a new contract for Kyle Busch. The youngster has made three starts and posted top-20 finishes in every single one while avoiding on-track incidents.
23XI Racing has hopes that Busch will return to the No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD for the final three races of the regular season, as well as the playoffs so that he can add more points to his total and pursue wins. There is no information available yet about whether this will happen, but the team knows that Gibbs can perform when given the opportunity.
Wallace Set Career-High Marks at Michigan International Speedway
When Wallace climbed out of his No. 23 Toyota Camry TRD after his second runner-up of the season, he was emotional. He told both his team over the radio and NBC Sports that he had “failed” at the two-mile track.
The stats tell a different story. Wallace may not have won, but his runner-up at Michigan was his sixth top-10 finish of the year and his fourth top-five. Both set new career-high marks for him and continued a recent run of strong outings.
Wallace’s previous best season in terms of top-10s was 2020, his final year with Richard Petty Motorsports. He posted five top-10s in the No. 43 Chevrolet Camaro. His previous best for top-fives was in 2021, his first season with 23XI Racing. He posted three that season including his win at Talladega Superspeedway.
There are 13 races remaining in the regular season, and Wallace is on pace to add even more strong finishes to his total. He has already set a personal record by finishing in the top 10 for four consecutive weeks, a run that includes three top-fives. Now he will head to Richmond Raceway, a track where Toyota Racing drivers have combined for nine wins in the past 13 starts.