Bubba Wallace drops from No. 23 to No. 45 for Cup Series playoffs

Bubba Wallace drops from No. 23 to No. 45 for Cup Series playoffs
Bubba Wallace drops from No. 23 to No. 45 for Cup Series playoffs

Bubba Wallace is moved from his #23 car for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Wallace failed to qualify for the playoffs as he failed to win any races in the first 26 races of the season. But with 23XI Racing teammate Kurt Busch still sidelined with a concussion and Busch’s car part of the owner’s points playoff, Wallace will take the wheel of Busch’s #45 car for the Last 10 races of the season while its current crew also travels. at No. 45 with him.

NASCAR has two different sets of point standings. The best known points classification is the driver’s points classification. The other set is the owner’s point ranking. Owner points reflect the number of points a single car has scored and generally reflect driver points, unless one or more teams use multiple drivers in a car.

Busch won at Kansas in May to advance to the playoffs in both seeding series. But he was forced to pull out of the drivers’ playoffs last week as he is expected to miss Sunday night’s race at Darlington. Busch has been out of his No. 45 car since July after crashing in qualifying at Pocono. Xfinity Series driver Ty Gibbs served as his replacement and there is no public indication when Busch will be healthy enough to return to the Cup Series.

“After consulting with NASCAR, we have made this decision in the best interests of the entire organization and all of our employees who helped earn a place in the Owners’ Championship playoffs through their hard work,” said the 23XI president Steve Lauletta in a statement. “While Ty did a great job for us in the #45 car, we believe Bubba’s experience in that car, on the upcoming playoff tracks and his recent momentum will give 23XI the best chance to maximize our points every weekend. We recognize that this is a unique opportunity in the Cup Series, and we are grateful to our employees and partners for supporting the team and supporting this decision.

While Busch’s withdrawal opened up a Drivers Playoff berth that Ryan Blaney clinched at Daytona, the #45 car retained its Owners Playoff spot. And with No. 45 in the hunt for the Owner’s title, 23XI puts Wallace in the car to maximize his chances of getting a good finish in the Owner’s standings.

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It’s a smart decision, even if it will be confusing for some fans over the next few weeks. The points money at the end of the season is mainly tied to the owner’s ranking. The longer the No. 45 finishes in the playoffs, the more money the 23XI will earn. Wallace’s #23 car cannot finish higher than 17th in the owners standings, and playoff cars receive a larger share of the prize money than non-playoff cars.

The inclusion of the No. 45 in the owner playoff also gives us a slim chance of seeing a rare double Cup Series celebration. If Wallace has a good playoff streak, he could run for the owner’s title in Phoenix. And if he wins the owner’s title, he and 23XI could be celebrating a title at the same time another driver and his team are celebrating the driver’s title.

Bubba Wallace drops from No. 23 to No. 45 for the final 10 races of the NASCAR Cup Series season. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

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. Bubba Wallace passes for the playoffs Cup Series

. Bubba Wallace drops Cup Series playoffs

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