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During NASCAR's gauntlet of Next Gen testing throughout the offseason, there was one notable absence from the list of drivers who stepped behind the wheel of the Cup Series' new car. Bubba Wallace did not participate in testing and has not driven a racecar since the 2021 season finale at Phoenix. He has spent the past several months on the mend in preparation for the 2022 campaign.

Speaking to Dustin Long of NBC Sports, Wallace shared that he is "100 percent" after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason to repair a torn labrum. Wallace will get back behind the wheel for 23XI Racing in the organizational test at Phoenix Raceway later in January after missing Next Gen test sessions at Charlotte and Daytona.

"Just aching after races last year," Wallace said. "Just getting that out of the way was good. Just wear and tear from my career. I haven't had anything dramatic to it."

With his shoulder now repaired, Wallace will be in the sort of physical condition necessary to build on his first season with 23XI and continue his emergence as one of NASCAR's biggest stars. In 2021, Wallace scored a milestone first career victory at Talladega, but only had three Top 10 finishes -- fifth at Pocono, second at Daytona and the Talladega win.

With the expansion of 23XI Racing from one to two cars and the addition of 2004 Cup Champion Kurt Busch, Wallace and his race team enter the 2022 season well-positioned to take the next step from fledglings to frontrunners.

"I think there's a lot of potential there with our team," Wallace said in a story by Jordan Bianchi of The Athletic. "And the unknowns are kind of exciting, we're going to be ready for it." 

Wallace will have a prime opportunity to get off to a hot start in 2022, as the Daytona 500 presents an opportunity for him to capitalize on his strength as a superspeedway driver. Superspeedways were the strength of Wallace and 23XI in their first season, as he ran up front in the first races of 2021 at Daytona and Talladega before finishing second and first in his return trips to NASCAR's biggest and fastest tracks later in the year.