James Gilbert, Getty

After the first half of their first season was defined largely by growing pains and missed opportunities, Sunday at Pocono Raceway was a rewarding day for 23XI Racing. The second race of the Pocono Doubleheader fell the way the team needed it to, as Bubba Wallace was able to capitalize on good track position and a sound fuel strategy to finish fifth, earning the first Top 5 and Top 10 in his race team's young history.

Wallace's fifth place run was a significant one, as it matched the sort of expectations that many outsiders had for 23XI Racing -- largely due to its co-owner, NBA legend Michael Jordan -- when it entered the NASCAR Cup Series this season. 

With its first Top 5 in the books, the expectations of Jordan are now rising to match his team's best finish ever.

According to a report by Adam Stern of Sports Business Journal, Wallace shared that both Jordan and 23XI investor Curtis Polk were "ecstatic and pumped up" after their team's fifth-place run at Pocono. Jordan also sent a text message to Wallace, where he shared the standard for his driver moving forward.

"Now he expects a Top 10 every week," Wallace said. "So now we have to put our foot down and keep digging."

While the star power of Jordan combined with Wallace's own ascending star set the bar high for 23XI Racing in the public, internal expectations for the team's first season were much more guarded: Team co-owner Denny Hamlin recently told CBS Sports that his team was "pretty close to where I thought that we would be" near the halfway mark of their first season.

Those sentiments towards the team's progression, even as they seemed to max out in the 11th-15th range, were shared by Jordan.

"Everyone talks about how he's a winner, he's a champion, yeah, but he's also a realistic person," Wallace said in a report by Dustin Albino of "He wants to win, but he knows what it will take for us to get there. It's more from me, it's from the team, it's a more group effort."

While Sunday marked the first time 23XI Racing has cracked the Top 10 in the finishing order, the team has hardly been lacking in performance so far in 2021. Wallace has led a career-high 49 laps and has finished 16th or better eight times in 19 races.