Denny Hamlin Says Pit Crew Problems Are Keeping 23XI Drivers Tyler Reddick & Bubba Wallace Out Of Victory Lane

Bubba Wallace NASCAR
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Been a rough couple years on pit road for 23XI Racing.

Ever since the team, which was started by NASCAR Cup Series driver Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan, made their debut back in 2021, it seems like the only thing they’ve been able to count on is having trouble on pit road.

For the first two seasons, the team leased pit crews from Joe Gibbs Racing, which meant that JGR was responsible for picking and training the crews for 23XI. But the obvious problem with that is that Joe Gibbs Racing obviously also needs pit crews for their own cars, so they’re not going to give the best crew members to another team. That meant that 23XI was stuck with lower-tier pit crews, and the results showed during the races.

Starting in 2023, the team started hiring and training their own pit crew members. But Hamlin was transparent at the time that it wasn’t going to be an overnight fix, as it would take time to build new crews from scratch.

And that proved to be true on Sundays.

Last year, the driver of the #23 car, Bubba Wallace, was vocal about the team needing to step up their game on pit road after multiple issues like loose lug nuts and slow stops cost him valuable positions on the track, even when he was running well.

And those issues have continued into 2024. This past weekend at Las Vegas, both Wallace and his teammate Tyler Reddick had issues on pit road.

Wallace ended up many laps down after a lug nut got stuck on his tire, forcing his team to have to cut it off and taking him out of contention despite having a fast car.

But it was even more heartbreaking for Tyler Reddick. The driver of the #45 car was racing for the win in the closing laps of the race, running just a second behind leader Kyle Larson. But during a set of green flag pit stops, a slow stop put Reddick 3 seconds back as the laps wound down, and he was never able to get past Larson for the win.

After the race, Reddick expressed his frustration with his pit road issues:

“Stupid mistakes on pit road. Same sh*t, different year, right? It’s kind of frustrating.”

And his team owner Denny Hamlin shares those same frustrations. On his podcast, Actions Detrimental, Denny acknowledged the team’s pit road issues but once again said that there’s no quick fix:

“This is the new team blues…

When I had to start this damn thing from scratch, I had nobody. Anybody that’s really, really good, they’re under long contracts. These teams lock these guys up for years and years. And so you got nobody.

You gotta find talent within the field somewhere that’s got experience, or you try to get some young guys that are very inexperienced. And this is just part of starting a team and trying to do this on your own.”

Denny also said that there’s no question that the issues are keeping his drivers from winning races:

“It’s keeping the 23XI guys out of victory lane. No question about it.”

And he summed up his feelings on the pit road struggles:

“It f*cking sucks.”

Of course pit crews rarely get this kind of attention when they’re performing well, but these guys are highly trained athletes who put in hours and hours of work each week to be able to change 4 tires and fuel a car in 9 seconds during a pit stop. A lot of the pit crew members these days are former college football players or NFL athletes, so it’s not like you’re able to just go get a guy from your local Jiffy Lube to change tires for your race team.

But as fast as Reddick is running, it’s gotta be frustrating to lose out on victories because of mistakes that other people are making.

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