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Bubba Wallace Earns Season-Best Fourth-Place Result at Martinsville

Photo Credit: Lesley Ann Miller, LAT Images, Courtesy of Toyota Racing

A clear message about expectations has led to small gains for the No. 23 23XI Racing team.

Bubba Wallace had a hot start to the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season with back-to-back fifth-place finishes at Daytona and Atlanta. That positive momentum quickly soured after crossing the finish line 36th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, one week later. In the four weeks since, the No. 23 Toyota Camry XSE had finished in the 12th to 16th-place range three more times. But Wallace wants more.

Last weekend at Richmond Raceway, the two-time NASCAR Cup Series winner admitted that he gathered his 23XI Racing team for a “come to Jesus” meeting.

“It’s the same start we’ve had and I said I didn’t want that,” said Wallace about the reasoning for the conversation. “I just set the tone.”

With expectations clearly laid out moving forward, the 23XI Racing crew was hungry to prove what they were capable of. Since the Food City 500 at Bristol, the results have gotten progressively better, with a 15th-place result at Circuit of The Americas, and a 13th-place result at Richmond Raceway.

However, after Sunday’s Cook Out 400 at Martinsville Raceway, the No. 23 group can hold their heads high knowing Wallace came home with a top-five finish, bringing his McDonald’s Toyota Camry XSE across the line in fourth.

“I thought everybody executed really well today,” Wallace said post-race. “Maintained on pit road, made great adjustments and just got behind on that last one and I’m sure it’s a tenth of air pressure. That small of an adjustment can take you out, so we’ll figure it out.”

Though they may have missed the final adjustment by a hair, Wallace remained consistent throughout the 400-lap contest. The Mobile, Alabama-native had legitimate speed throughout the weekend and found himself in contention to win both stages. However, he would have to settle up for a runner-up result each time, picking up crucial stage points.

“I’d get to the leader’s back bumper on too late and as both stages,” Wallace said about the difficulty of passing the leader by the end of the stage. “I mean that’s just something for us to continue to work on and then be better.”

At the end of the day, Wallace left Martinsville with 51 points, boosting him up two spots in the points.

“We’re all taking a big self-reflection moment over the last couple of months and being like ‘hey, let’s let’s get our stuff together’,” Wallace shared after the race. “We know what we’re capable of it’s days like this, you know? I’ll continue to take top four finishes because eventually your name will be thrown in the winner’s circle.”

Now, as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway, Wallace could be a sleeper pick, after his performance at the 1.5-mile facility last Fall, scoring the pole and finishing in the runner-up position – after losing the lead to William Byron on a late-race restart.

Wallace will look to capture his first victory of the year, and the first for 23XI Racing in 2024, next weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, a track he’s shown previous strength at.

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