Saturday, September 23, 2023

Bubba Wallace Emotional After Runner-Up Finish at Michigan

Bubba Wallace second place finish Michigan International Speedway 2022 FireKeepers Casino 400
Bubba Wallace wore his emotions on his sleeve following a runner-up finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Photo Credit: LAT Images, Nigel Kinrade, Courtesy of Toyota Racing

Bubba Wallace continued to show strength on the race track in this weekend’s NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway. The driver of the No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota Camry scored his first-career NASCAR Cup Series pole, he led 22 laps and after showing strength throughout the day, the 28-year old came home in the runner-up spot to Kevin Harvick.

While it was a good weekend, the near-miss left Wallace emotional as he climbed from his 23XI Racing machine thinking about what could have been.

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“Just replaying everything I could have done,” Wallace said. “Took the top there on the restart. Thought I could hang there with the 4 and just got to racing [Kyle Larson] and [Joey Logano]. The [Logano] did a good job of getting another Ford contract, helping a Ford win.”

While Wallace chalked up his battle with Logano for second as the reason he couldn’t catch Harvick for the race win, he got choked up when talking about failing his team.

“Just all in all an incredible weekend. Appreciate my team. Wish we could have gotten Toyota in victory lane, wish we could have gotten McDonald’s back in victory lane. She was fast all week, man. I’ll wear this one on my heart for a while. I failed everybody,” Wallace stated while holding back tears.

Wallace says that if he would have cleared Larson sooner and pushed Harvick on the restart, he feels he would have been in victory lane.

“Clear the 5 sooner. He was doing his part putting it on my quarter there keeping me tight. Just a side by side here allows the 4 to get away,” Wallace explained. “I could have taken the top, pushed the 4 and then I could have been the 5 in that scenario, right? I just hate it. Hate it for our team. It sucks.”

While he was very upset by not sealing the deal, Wallace did credit his team for putting together an incredible effort from start to finish at the 2-mile oval in Brooklyn, Michigan.

“Just great job all weekend, I mean, it is a hell of a job for our team. There’s a lot of positives in this, but I’m a person who looks more at the negatives than the positives — I need to change that — but I want to win so bad, and this was the best opportunity,” Wallace said.

Here is the full video of Wallace’s post-race interview on the USA Network broadcast:

Wallace, who sits 19th in the NASCAR Cup Series championship standings with three races left until the Playoffs begin, finds himself in the biggest hot streak of his young career. With Sunday’s runner-up finish, Wallace now has four-consecutive top-10 finishes, which includes three top-five finishes.

While he didn’t lock himself into the Playoffs at Michigan, Wallace does have momentum on his side and he has two favorable tracks left on the schedule before the Playoffs — Richmond, where Toyota teams have dominated in recent years and Daytona, where Wallace finished second in the season-opening Daytona 500 and is seemingly always in contention.

The third track left between now and the Playoff is Watkins Glen. While Wallace isn’t known for his road racing prowess, he did finish fifth at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course a couple of weeks ago, which signals he is capable of top finishes at road courses, as well.

Either way, Wallace will be an intriguing driver to keep an eye on as the regular season draws to a close.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next weekend at Richmond Raceway for the Federated Auto Parts 400. The race at Richmond is set for Sunday, August 14th and USA Network will provide television coverage beginning at 3:00 PM ET.

Toby Christie
Toby Christie
Toby is the Founder, and Editor-in-Chief of Toby is also the co-host of The Final Lap Weekly Podcast. Additionally, he is an award-winning writer, and has followed the sport as a fan since 1993.

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