Bubba Wallace to get new crew chief at 23XI Racing as Bootie Barker replaces Mike Wheeler on the pit box

Close to the top of its first season in NASCAR, 23XI Racing is in an fascinating place: It is gone by means of important first-year rising pains, and its outcomes have not fairly matched the hype that accompanied its inception. And but, the workforce is ready to introduce a second automotive and a former Cup Collection champion in 2022. That is necessitated some modifications inside the group which will probably be efficient for the remainder of the season.

On Thursday, 23XI Racing introduced that Mike Wheeler, the crew chief for the workforce’s No. 23 Toyota, will change into 23XI’s full-time director of competitors. The transfer to director of competitors will take him off the pit field, and he will probably be changed by Bootie Barker as Bubba Wallace’s crew chief for the rest of the 2021 season.

Wheeler, who has served because the workforce’s de facto director of competitors for the reason that workforce’s institution — and is thought affectionately as “Wheels” — will now concentrate on 23XI’s enlargement from one to 2 vehicles in addition to work on the workforce’s future headquarters.

“Mike Wheeler has been an enormous a part of serving to construct 23XI Racing,” learn a press release by 23XI Racing president Steve Lauletta “From day one, Wheels has helped put this workforce collectively, with a concentrate on the competitors aspect. As we transfer in the direction of 2022, it is vital for us to place the suitable individuals in place that assist proceed the expansion of 23XI to the subsequent stage.

“As we end out the 2021 season, this transfer permits Wheels to concentrate on our total imaginative and prescient for 23XI and permit Bootie to assist Bubba and the No. 23 workforce end robust over the ultimate eight races.”

Of their first season working collectively, Wallace and Wheeler’s outcomes haven’t fairly been what had been hoped for 23XI Racing: The workforce solely has two high 10 finishes this season, although each such finishes had been inside the high 5. Wallace parlayed gas technique right into a fifth-place end at Pocono, after which averted an enormous wreck on the ultimate lap in the summertime race at Daytona to tie his career-best end of second. Presently final 12 months, Wallace had one high 5 and a career-best 5 high 10 finishes whereas driving for Richard Petty Motorsports.

Regardless of modest on-track outcomes, Wallace has dedicated to the imaginative and prescient of 23XI Racing’s future because the workforce co-owned by NBA legend Michael Jordan and NASCAR star Denny Hamlin expands its Cup footprint with the introduction of the Subsequent Gen automotive in 2022.

“I feel Denny’s path and imaginative and prescient is getting this workforce going within the proper path,” Wallace mentioned throughout a latest look on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, per Kelly Crandall of RACER. “We simply should maintain doing what we’re doing and I simply should maintain doing my job. We need to attempt to get this No. 23XI program up and going and being constant. I feel that is one factor we have lacked a little bit bit this 12 months. We have lacked consistency. We’re making an attempt to make that the very best we will and that is what I am wanting ahead to essentially the most.

“We have simply received to get rid of the errors and present up with the celebs and all the pieces else aligned. it is good to have the help from Denny and the workforce as a result of this sport is so demanding. It is grueling and demanding, so when you’ve a workforce like this that’s with you each step of the best way like this one is, it positively helps the boldness.”

In taking on as Wallace’s crew chief, Robert “Bootie” Barker will return to the highest of the pit field for the primary time since 2017. Barker served as a Cup crew chief from 2003 till 2017, working with drivers corresponding to Dave Blaney, Mike Bliss, Michael Waltrip, Casey Mears, and most just lately Ty Dillon. | Bubba Wallace to get new crew chief at 23XI Racing as Bootie Barker replaces Mike Wheeler on the pit field


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