Looks like Denny Hamlin is ready to take 23XI Racing to the next level.
The Cup Series team is co-owned by Hamlin, along with NBA legend Michael Jordan, and the driver said he’s ready to set the bar as high as possible.
According to The Charlotte Observer, Hamlin said he wants to see both of his team’s cars, which includes the new No. 45 Toyota driven by Kurt Busch, advance to the series’ 16-car playoffs this year.
It’ll all begin when the Cup Series kicks off this upcoming Sunday in Daytona Beach, at the Daytona 500.
Busch continues to see success, as he’s won at least one race in the last eight seasons. He made the playoffs last year with a win at Atlanta, but was eliminated from postseason contention before the Round of 12.
The seasoned veteran said the expectations are still the same, even though he’s now on a younger team:
“Winning races, both cars in the playoffs. And for us, making a run through the playoffs to have a shot at the Final Four… that’s what we want to do on the 45 car.
There’s no reason to think that we can’t with the information sharing and the technology that we have with Toyota.”
However, for 23XI’s original driver Bubba Wallace, who won his first Cup race last year at Talladega this past season, the stakes might be even higher.
Wallace’s average finish last year was 19.7 and he did not advance to the postseason. He’s been one of the most talked about drivers in NASCAR, one of the most polarizing, but his performance on the track hasn’t quite measured up.
However, Hamlin has faith in the youngster, and says he’s close to officially breaking through:
“A goal for us is to have both cars in the playoffs. I think Bubba isn’t far off from that. It’s one DNF away. When you look at the standings for who’s a contender to beat.
You can gain a couple spots a week, and on average, change your average finish from 20th to 18th, and you’re there.
It’s not that much and you really won’t see that much, and yet, you’ll see a big change in the standings.”
Wallace said that the playoffs are the obvious goal for any team, but consistency will be the main focus in order to get there:
“Smoothing out the graph on a results chart is important for us, and bringing that graph lower and lower, and better.”
It all kicks off this Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.