NASCAR team 23XI Racing partners with Mack Trucks

“You can build the fastest, best of class race cars, but if you can’t get them to the track on time, then they are not racing,” says Mike Lorusso, director of shop operations for 23XI Racing, a NASCAR team based in Huntersville, North Carolina. Which is why 23XI Racing relies on the Mack Anthem® to get them to the starting line.

23XI Racing, co-owned by basketball legend and lifelong NASCAR fan Michael Jordan and current driver and three-time Daytona 500 champion Denny Hamlin, fields two cars in the NASCAR Cup Series, the No. 23 driven by Bubba Wallace and the No. 45 driven by Tyler Reddick.

Mack Trucks provides three Anthems and a Mack® MD medium-duty truck to support the team throughout the NASCAR Cup Series season.

Lorusso manages the group that builds the racecars, as well as coordinating the logistics of transporting vehicles and equipment to and from the track each week during the season. This amounts to 38 races in 20 states, complicated by the fact that the team has to bring everything it will need for the race to the track each weekend. Two of the Anthems transport the racecars, while the third occasionally hauls addition parts and equipment. It’s a detailed logistical operation that logs more than 65,000 miles per truck in a season. Anthem's reliability and Mack's Uptime Services provide assurance that the racecars will be at the track in plenty of time for the race.

There’s a quick turnaround between events and the haulers are critically important to the operation. “The truck drivers do a phenomenal job of getting the cars and equipment to the track. Without them, there is no show,” Lorusso says.

The drivers are responsible for being on time, getting the trucks washed before the event and making sure everything is in top shape. Their duties, other than driving, include grocery shopping for snacks and making sure all components (including spares) are ready. Meeting the demands of the NASCAR roster includes using team drivers for half of the 38 races in order to keep drivers safe and compliant.

The 23XI Mack MD is used to transport racecars to testing sites and other facilities near the team's headquarters. It's outfitted with a custom rollback body that is designed for the low-clearance cars to be loaded without damage to the bodywork. The MD’s powertrain includes a 300-horsepower, 6.7L Cummins turbodiesel engine and a six-speed Allison automatic transmission.

All three Anthem models started with black paint, but each is strikingly decaled and wrapped. They are designed for performance and driver comfort with 70-inch stand-up sleepers and full aerodynamic fairings packages, Mack MP®8-505C+ engines and m DRIVE™ 12-speed automated manual transmissions. The Anthems are each equipped with an electric auxiliary power unit (eAPU) that keeps the cab cool without having to idle the engine while stopped. The drivers are pampered from the driver’s seat to the sleeper, with premium seats and Mack's innovative Command Steer electronic steering assist system to provide superior control and reduce driver fatigue, while Mack's Elite trim provides all the creature comforts for the sleeper.

“Man, this thing is sweet!” was one reaction from the drivers when Anthems first joined the fleet. Lorusso says they far exceed expectations for comfort, safety and aesthetics. “It’s been a great partnership with Mack from the start,” Lorusso says.

The right stuff

Dennis Valverde is a senior hauler driver for 23XI Racing. His truck-driving background was owning his own trucking company to deliver produce around the country. “Hauling produce means you are dealing with refrigerated systems, temperature controls and the pressure of knowing late loads will be rejected,” Valverde says. Handling that kind of pressure prepared him for working with a NASCAR team.

“Our saying out here is that when everyone else is sleeping, we’re out here driving,” he says. “Our work is invisible to everybody else on the race team.”

23XI's Anthems are high-profile on the highways, with massive attention from race fans everywhere. Valverde says the Anthem's looks supports the team’s image. He’s dubbed his Anthem “the Big Mack” as a nod to one of the sponsors, McDonalds. It’s an attraction for other drivers at the racetrack, with everyone commenting on how they like its look. Valverde also says he's impressed with the power, especially going up and down hills, and is happy with the mileage as fuel is a big expense.

“We are always on top gear on the interstate, running speed limit and getting more than six miles per gallon,” he says.

Valverde gives a thumbs up to the Mack interior and says it’s got all the comforts including the heated seats with the lumbar system, easy-to-see controls, automated transmission and an infotainment center.

Although there was an adjustment, Valverde says he likes the Command Steer now that he is used to it. “It makes everything easier. You’re not fighting the steering wheel and can turn it with one finger. If you’re backing it, it’ll put itself back in the center mode,” he says. Valverde also likes the GuardDog Connect for maintenance updates and any easily fixed issues on the road. “It’s a great security system because we know the trucks are going to talk to us about any issues,” he says.

23XI Racing haulers Chris Miko and Tony Manns say one of the perks of the prestigious hauling job includes driving the coolest trucks. Miko hauls for No. 45 Tyler Reddick and Manns for No. 23 Bubba Wallace, and both had never driven a Mack before the Anthems.

Miko says it’s the best truck he’s driven in 24 years.

“When I started driving one, I fell in love!” he says.

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