NASCAR: 5 playoff drivers who could already be in trouble

Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images)
Tyler Reddick, 23XI Racing, William Byron, Hendrick Motorsports, NASCAR (Photo by Logan Riely/Getty Images) /
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Bubba Wallace, NASCAR
Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, NASCAR (Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) /

NASCAR playoff drivers who need to panic: No. 5 – Bubba Wallace

Unlike the other four drivers on this list, Bubba Wallace wasn’t actually a playoff driver last year. However, he was still a part of last year’s playoffs and was able to gain crucial playoff experience because of a decision 23XI Racing made to move him to the No. 45 Toyota once Kurt Busch was ruled out.

Busch won the regular season race at Kansas Speedway before suffering a head injury in a single-car wreck at Pocono Raceway. While he gave up his playoff spot since he was not cleared to return to competition, his win remained tied to the No. 45 team, meaning that the No. 45 team still made it into the owner playoffs.

Rather than have Ty Gibbs continue to drive the No. 45 Toyota as Busch’s replacement, the Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan-owned team moved the more experienced Wallace from the No. 23 Toyota to the No. 45 Toyota in an attempt to bolster the No. 45 team’s owner championship chances.

Despite not being a playoff driver, Wallace won the playoff race at Kansas Speedway and made the No. 45 team the first team to clinch a spot in the round of 12, so the move paid off.

Regarding the start of the 2023 season, Wallace and 23XI Racing have struggled as a whole, really more than anybody else has. 23XI Racing have yet to finish a race with either of their full-time drivers; their only finish is Travis Pastrana’s 11th place effort in the Daytona 500, and that was his Cup Series debut.

Next. All-time NASCAR Cup Series wins list. dark

Wallace sits in 26th place in the point standings after a challenging start to what many believe is a very important year for him. Despite the fact that he has never made it to the playoffs in five years as a full-time driver, both of his wins (both with 23XI Racing) have come in the playoffs. Can he finally make it count in 2023?