Bubba Wallace is hoping to close out what he considers his most accomplished season with a victory on Sunday, and he expects to be a “force” to be reckoned with.
His No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota will have a Star Wars theme for Sunday’s season-ender and Wallace got to meet with Star Wars legend Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the famed blockbuster franchise. While Wallace appreciated the opportunity, he also enjoyed it because his best friend, fellow NASCAR Cup Series driver and member of the weekend‘s Championship 4 Ryan Blaney, is a notably huge Star Wars fan.
“My boss is MJ, so. ..” a smiling Wallace said of team owner, NBA superstar Michael Jordan when he asked if he was starstruck meeting Hamill.
“When he [Hamill] did say, ‘May the force be with you always,‘ now that was pretty cool. I‘ve heard that line and everybody and his mother says it but when he does, that‘s pretty special.”
Wallace is hopeful that the “force” may be with him for this weekend‘s season finale as he is still racing for his first trophy of 2023 despite upping his game overall by qualifying for his first NASCAR Playoffs berth. He has nine top-10 finishes and tied his previous best mark of top-five showings with five. He also earned his second career pole position this fall at Texas, but has only one top-10 finish (10th in 2018) in 11 Phoenix starts.
“Definitely being talked about more for our performances and race results, and not so much the negative headlines,” Wallace said of 2023. “That‘s good so we just need to continue to build on that. I definitely learned a lot about who I am as a driver and just trying to be a better team leader and it‘s starting to click more and more. Just got to get the wick lit earlier in the season and get on a hot streak and keep that flame going.”