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December 18, 2023

Bubba Wallace 2023 season in review


Bubba Wallace gives fans the peace sign during driver intros.
Sean Gardner
Getty Images

Editor’s note: This continues a series where we review the top 20 drivers in 2023 NASCAR Cup Series points.

Season in review: Bubba Wallace, No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota
Crew Chief: Robert “Bootie” Barker
Final 2023 Ranking: 10th
Key stats: 0 wins, five top fives, 10 top 10s, 285 laps led

How 2023 ended: Statistically speaking, the 2023 season ended as the strongest in Wallace’s six-year, full-time career in NASCAR’s Cup Series. He qualified for the playoffs for the first time and scored four of his season’s 10 top-10 finishes during the playoff run — advancing to the second round of playoff competition.

Best race: Although Wallace has made a name for himself with his showing on superspeedways, his 2023 season was highlighted by a third-place finish at the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway in the September playoff race, where he led a race-best – and career single-race high — 111 laps.

RELATED: Strong days for Bubba Wallace, Kyle Larson end in Texas-size heartbreak

Other season highlights: Although Wallace did not score a victory this year, he still excelled on track, earning his maiden playoff berth, advancing to the second round, and setting a career-high mark in laps led (285). He was a bona fide contender from the season’s first green flag to its final checkered flag – leading laps and being as competitive at the end of races as at the start. Wallace credits his success this year to tempering his emotions and “keeping my head in the game,” recognizing that some days getting a top 10 with a top-10 car is still a success.

Stat to Know: One of the most significant indicators of Wallace’s strong season is that he nearly doubled his single season laps led total (285) compared to a previous best of 150 last year. He led laps in 12 races – a third of the season schedule.

Quotable: “Definitely being talked about a lot more for our performances and race results, not so much in the negative headlines so that’s good and we’ve just got to continue to build on that. Definitely learned a lot about who I am as a driver and trying to be a better team leader and it’s all starting to click more and more. Just have to get the wick lit earlier in the season and get on a hot streak and keep that flame going.”

RELATED: Wallace on long road to Cup prominence: ‘This is just the beginning’

Looking ahead: Earning his maiden playoff opportunity was a sign of Wallace’s arrival in the sport’s upper echelon. He doubled his laps led total, equaled career-best marks in top fives and top 10s and will be able to look back on the 2023 season as a real turning point. One of the categories Wallace would like to improve on is his stage win tally. He had zero this season despite earning the ninth-most stage points in the series. He’s won races in two of the last three seasons and in 2023 positioned himself to do so multiple times. Wallace should head into next season with confidence, looking to put all his achievements together – winning races, leading laps and taking top-10 finishes on a mediocre day to advance farther in the playoffs.

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