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Bubba Wallace is pulling a reverse Michael Jordan.
Wallace, who drives Jordan’s No. 23 Toyota for 23XI Racing, will move over to the sister No. 45 car for the entirety of the NASCAR playoffs, which begin Sunday at Darlington.
Jordan wore the No. 45 for 22 games with the Chicago Bulls before donning the iconic No. 23 for the remainder of his career.
The No. 45 is usually driven by Kurt Busch, who won at Kansas in May.
Busch, however, pulled out of the playoffs last week due to lingering concussion symptoms, and NASCAR announced that the No. 45 entry would no longer be eligible for a driver’s championship but would still be in the running for the owner’s championship.
What is the NASCAR Owner’s Championship?
Which brings us back to Bubba …
Since Wallace, who signed an extension with 23XI earlier this month, did not qualify for the playoffs, the team has decided to slide him into Busch’s seat and allow him to run for the owner’s championship.
The owner’s championship operates in the same manner as the driver’s championship, except that points are awarded to the car, not the drivers.
If an owner enters more than one car, each car is viewed and scored as a separate entity.
The points awarded are identical as the points awarded in the driver’s championship, with one exception: drivers who aren’t playoff-eligible can still run for an owner’s championship – which is what Bubba will be doing this fall.
Everyone get all that?
“Since we started 23XI as a one-car team and grew to two cars, we’ve always said we are two cars but act as one team,” 23XI team president Steve Lauletta said. “This is us putting that, again, into reality. The whole point of this is to put our team in the best position to get as far in the owners’ championship playoffs as possible.”
Ty Gibbs, who had been running Busch’s No. 45 Toyota since July, will replace Wallace in his 23.