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Bubba Wallace Takes Aim at Boss Denny Hamlin in Fun Social Media Exchange

Driving the No. 23 Toyota, Wallace competes for 23XI Racing, which is co-owned by Hamlin and six-time NBA champion Michael Jordan.   

By Andrew Woodin
Bubba Wallace and Denny Hamlin smiling while speaking to one another

Throughout its 75 years of existence, NASCAR has cultivated some of the most talented wheelmen in the history of motorsports and — perhaps to balance out the high-octane competitive environment — some of those drivers have been some pretty epic jokesters.

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NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Mark Martin’s “I’m Retiring!” prank in 2005 left many belly aching from laughter. After his 2012 fracas with Jeff Gordon at Phoenix Raceway, Clint Bowyer, with the help of restaurateur and TV personality Guy Fieri, snuck onto Diddy’s yacht in St. Barts and put the Wonder Boy in a playful headlock. Though he ended up liking it in the end, Dale Earnhardt Jr. mistakenly pranked himself when he bit into a mayonnaise-filled doughnut that was concocted by someone at JR Motorsports. And Alex Bowman’s veteran teammates at Hendrick Motorsports once changed his iPhone’s text shortcut, causing his phone to write “sweaty” instead of “ready.” 

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The point is that, as competitive and tenacious every Cup Series driver must be to succeed in NASCAR’s top flight — risking life and limb every time they get behind the wheel — they also seem to possess some of the best humors in the wide world of professional sports. This is evident in the recent social media exchange between Bubba Wallace and his boss at 23XI Racing, Denny Hamlin.

In town for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard this past weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the 23XI Racing team — minus NBA legend Michael Jordan, who co-owns the racing organization with Hamlin — posed for a group photo outside the historic track. While the drivers, including Wallace, Tyler Reddick and 2021's 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Kamui Kobayashi in his NASCAR Cup Series debut, all sported racing suits for the occasion, Hamlin, standing out like a sore thumb, wore a short-sleeve polo shirt and Nike joggers.

Posting the photo from his personal Instagram account, Wallace, perennially known for engaging in playful antics both on and off the track, couldn’t resist taking a swipe at his boss Hamlin.

“One of us didn’t get the memo,” Wallace captioned the photo, adding a head-shaking emoji.

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Though past jabs from Wallace have occasionally ignited a barrage of wacky comments, with some fans taking their analysis a bit too far, one response on Wallace’s post was from none other than Hamlin himself.

“The memo said drivers of 23XI and the team owner,” wrote Hamlin in his cheeky reply. “Not driver of the 11.”

As the very successful pilot of the No. 11 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing, Hamlin has clearly proven, once again, he can give it just as well as he can take it — something Wallace surely already knew, considering the pair’s history of ribbing one another. In 2018, a disagreement after that year’s Daytona 500 led to Hamlin jokingly informing Wallace that he had been booted from Hamlin’s basketball and golf leagues. Wallace “didn’t get the memo” that time because, following the prank, he created his own brand before Hamlin could nudge him that he was only kidding.

In the end, Hamlin might ultimately get the last laugh when it comes to this season. Through his two wins (Kansas, Pocono), Hamlin, who sits only 60 points behind Martin Truex Jr. in the top spot, has already punched his playoff ticket, whereas Wallace is currently battling Daniel Suárez for the final playoff spot.