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Interview: Steve Lauletta on why 23XI’s “different approach” is starting to pay off

For fourth-year NASCAR Cup Series team 23XI Racing, Sunday’s runner-up finish by Tyler Reddick in the No. 45 Nasty Beast Toyota Camry was equal parts exhilarating and frustrating.

“Second sucks, that’s for sure, but we had a really fast Nasty Beast Camry,” said Reddick a few minutes the checkered flag in Las Vegas. “We should have been up there battling even more than we were throughout the day.”

Taking it all in was 23XI Racing President Steve Lauletta, whose two drivers, Reddick and Bubba Wallace sit 12th and 14th respectively in the points.

“We’ve had a top five finish in every race,” answered Lauletta when asked for his take on 23XI Racing’s performance three races into the season.

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“The other finishes we’ve had – 29th and 30th place and 35th place – have been tough. Yeah, we’ve got to change that. And both of our guys have been very competitive. Obviously, the two superspeedway races were hard to call, but they both ran really well and had enough speed in Vegas and that was obviously a really strong race for Tyler and the No. 45 car. It’s just one of those things where we’ve got to get them both to finish up there near the front. Hopefully that will start this weekend at Phoenix.

“I think we are still feeling the momentum from the end of last season and our playoff push,” continued Lauletta, citing the fact that both drivers found their way into the Round of 12 in 2023. “We were happy to win one of the Daytona Duels with Tyler so far in 2024. Obviously Tyer had a shot at winning in Las Vegas and both guys had a good points day under their belts.

“Everybody feels real confident. It was good to see the speed in both of cars at the first mile and a half track of the season in Vegas. Now we’ll go to Phoenix and Bristol and then we’ll go to COTA where we are the defending race winner with Tyler. We think we’ve got three more strong efforts coming at us over the next few weeks.”

Now in his fourth year as 23XI Racing President, Lauretta has had his hands full in monitoring the effort’s striking new Airspeed race shop, NASCAR media, team sponsors, and the immediate future of the team.

“Yeah, there is always a lot going on, but that’s how we like it,” Lauletta said. “I feel like we’re on the path to the five year plan that Denny Hamlin laid out to be a consistent race winning team and a championship contending team.

“Like I remind people all of the time, we weren’t supposed to have Tyler Reddick until this season. And so we had a bonus year with him last year and finished sixth in driver points and made it one step away from Phoenix. We feel like that was a big opportunity for us to work together for a year that was kind of unexpected. Now we are really hitting the ground running and feel like we’ll continue to have that upward trajectory to have a great fourth season.”