Darrell Wallace’s crew chief Mike Wheeler is shifting his full focus to his role as 23XI Racing’s competition director.
Up until now, Wheeler has been juggling his competition role with his duties on the No. 23 Toyota team, but will now switch his attention toward preparing for the organization’s expansion to two cars when Kurt Busch arrives next season.
Bootie Barker will move into the crew chief role for Wallace beginning this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.
“Mike Wheeler has been a huge part of helping build 23XI Racing,” said team president Steve Lauletta. “From day one, ‘Wheels’ has helped put this team together, with a focus on the competition side. As we move towards 2022, it’s important for us to put the right people in place that help continue the growth of 23XI to the next level.
“As we finish out the 2021 season, this move allows Wheels to focus on our overall vision for 23XI and allow Bootie [Barker] to help Bubba and the No. 23 team finish strong over the final eight races.”
Barker is a veteran NASCAR crew chief with experience in all three national series. Most recently, Barker worked with Ty Dillon in the Cup Series. Barker was already a member of 23XI Racing, serving as the senior vehicle assembly engineer.
“Being a part of 23XI Racing from when it was just an idea to seeing the plans come to life, securing our temporary shop and working to build this team has been an amazing opportunity and one I’m excited to continue as the team grows and expands,” Wheeler said.
“I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to be back on the box this season with the No. 23 team and Bubba, but to be able to solely focus on the next steps it takes to expand to a multi-car team, build a new shop and get this team to where it’s in contention to win each and every week is exciting for me and I’m ready to give it my full attention as we finish this season and move into 2022.
“Bootie has been a great asset to 23XI Racing all season, and with his experience, he was the right choice to step in and finish the 2021 season with Bubba and the No. 23 Toyota Camry team.”
Wallace is 22nd in points with two top-10 finishes.