When the NASCAR Cup Series travels to Daytona in February, so will a new team. Owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan, 23XI Racing will provide a much needed boost to Toyota Racing Development with Bubba Wallace behind the wheel.
Unfortunately, 2020 was a tough year for Toyota Racing Development. Fielding just six full-time Cup Series cars, Toyota picked up just two victories outside of the dominant Denny Hamlin, who picked up seven. All nine Toyota victories were with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), with Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. each picking up a win.
Since NASCAR downsized to three manufacturers (Toyota/Chevrolet/Ford), Toyota has always been short on numbers. They’ve been without an alliance since 2018 (Furniture Row Racing), and it’s hurt them at times. With there being so many Chevrolet and Ford teams, it allows teams of the same manufacturer to work better with each other both on and off the track.
With the creation of 23XI Racing, it gives Joe Gibbs Racing an alliance to work with in 2021 and beyond. 23XI Racing will race JGR quality cars and motors, making Wallace’s car just as competitive as any other Gibbs car.
Being that 2021 will be the first year in existence for 23XI Racing, the team will field just one car. However, if the team has success, the company could potentially expand to multiple cars in the future.
Matt DiBenedetto, currently with Wood Brothers Racing, has an expiring contract at the end of the 2021 season. Austin Cindric Â will drive for the team in 2022, putting DiBenedetto out of a ride unless Wood Brothers Racing expands to two teams. DiBenedetto has Toyota experience, and would likely fit well with 23XI Racing.
On the Xfinity Series side of things, several drivers are proving that they soon deserve a Cup Series ride. In 2020, JGR Xfinity drivers Harrison Burton and Brandon Jones combined for seven wins, while Noah Gragson of JR Motorsports picked up two himself.
It’s just a matter of time until those three drivers have Cup Series rides, and it’s not impossible that opportunities could arise for them through 23XI Racing.
Although 23XI Racing has yet to put a car on the track, the future seems encouraging for the team. They have all the assets for instant success, including a young driver with a high ceiling. If the team has the success imagined, 23XI Racing could help boost Toyota Racing Development for a long time.