This season NASCAR saw 2 new teams join the Cup Series with big celebrity owners that looked to make their drivers compete with the best of the best. These teams are 23XI (owned by star driver Denny Hamlin and NBA goat Michael Jordan) and Team Trackhouse (Owned by Pitbull and Justin Marks.) This analysis will be less stats based like the last one was and more focused on the eye test, or how they have actually run because while stats don’t lie, they do not tell the whole story. One stat I will mention is that both drivers for each team are within 10 points with 23XI getting an advantage over Trackhouse due to a points reduction for failed inspection. Both teams have run fairly close together all race and each has shown their strengths and weakness so far and where they clearly look to be competitive. With all of that being said let’s take a deep dive into each team and how they have been doing.
23XI has been looked at by the general public as the little brother of the Joe Gibbs racing team and that is just far from true. Gibbs has had many affiliate teams in the past and has not always been the best technical alliance team to work with and it shows again with their new “baby team” It is no secret that they would not give Bubba their best gear and stuff to run because well, they need that stuff for their own teams first.
One thing that 23XI has had going for them is that they have shown exceptional raw speed at the plate tracks, some of the harder tracks to master. Their team has also shown that they can run up front and hang with the big boys and had it not been for some awful calls on top of the pit box, they could have a top 3 finish this season and maybe more.
The more you sit down and watch the races in full and hear from people at the track that could see more of Bubba running than we could, it is clear that his best tracks are tracks where speed is king and restarts (his best skill in my opinion) can get you a lot of track position. This is a great skill to have due to NASCARs love for the caution flag they have shown recently. Bubba is sitting well outside the playoffs but if he can string together some top 10s and maybe sneak a win and get into the playoffs he can consider this season successful.
Team Trackhouse and Daniel Suarez came into the season with much less hype than 23XI but arguably has run better overall. Aside from a fire at Martinsville Daniel Suarez has had some really good runs and is more consistently running inside the top 10 and competing for wins. Suarez’s best race so far has been a shockingly amazing run at Bristol dirt where he competed for the win and eventually lost to race winner Joey Logano. Suarez has run more consistently and he and his crew chief have worked well to make the right calls to put the team in the best sport for success.
Watching these 2 teams run and grow together will be very fun to watch. Seeing if both teams will expand into multi car operations and if they will turn into championship powerhouses in coming years with the next gen cars. It will also be exciting to see how long each team keeps their first ever driver, will they give up on Daniel and Bubba and move to something younger and better, or will they hold on to the guys that ultimately made their team possible. These two teams are going to be hot topics for a long time and seeing how they will end up not only at the end of this season, but 2-3 years in the future is going to be exciting.