DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — When Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan teamed up to launch 23XI Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, the duo said they wanted to make a statement.
During the opening practice session for the 63rd Daytona 500 on Wednesday, driver Bubba Wallace helped the new organization do that.
With drafting help from several of his Toyota teammates, Wallace drove the No. 23 Doordash Toyota Camry to the top of the charts, posting the quickest lap of the 50-minute session at 45.057 seconds (199.746 mph).
Wallace is seeking his first Daytona 500 pole and his first Cup Series victory.
He was trailed by the four Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas, with Martin Truex Jr. posting the second-best lap at 45.069 seconds (199.693 mph) in the No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Camry.
Truex confirmed a contract extension with Joe Gibbs Racing in the NASCAR Cup Series prior to the start of practice on Wednesday. He is also looking for his maiden Daytona 500 triumph.
Three-time Daytona 500 champion Hamlin was third overall (45.070/199.689) as he looks to become the first driver to win the event in three consecutive years.
Kyle Busch, who won the Busch Clash on the Daytona road course Tuesday night, and new JGR driver Christopher Bell filled out the top five.
Spire Motorsports impressed with Jamie McMurray and Corey LaJoie Wednesday, with that pair claiming the sixth and seventh spots, respectively, driving Chevrolets.
Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell, Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer were the balance of the top 10 — all in Fords.
All 44 drivers entered for the Daytona 500 made at least one practice lap of the 2.5-mile superspeedway. There were no incidents and no reports of any major mechanical issues from any team.
Among the drivers who only made single-car runs and did not draft in a pack, Austin Dillon and the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE were fastest, ranking 18th overall.
Dillon’s best lap was 46.237 seconds (194.649 mph).
Ryan Preece, in 19th, was best among the eight non-chartered drivers who are not locked into the field for the Daytona 500. His lap in the No. 37 JTG Daugherty Racing Chevrolet was 46.256 seconds (194.569 mph).
The top two non-chartered entries in qualifying Wednesday night will be guaranteed starting positions in the Daytona 500, no matter what happens in the Bluegreen Vacations Duels on Thursday.
Kroger Pole Night for the 63rd Daytona 500 begins at 7:30 p.m. ET, live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.