SPEEDWAY, Ind. – Bubba Wallace is not a road course ace in the NASCAR Cup Series. Yet in the chaotic finish in Sunday’s (July 31) race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, Wallace wheeled his No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota to a fifth-place finish.
Wallace scored his first top five and first top-10 result in a Cup event on a road course. In addition, Wallace continued his streak of top 10s, giving him three straight as the Cup regular season nears its end.
“Chaos ensued into [turn] 1 and I closed my eyes and gassed up and we were sixth,” Wallace said post-race. “I mean, that’s what you got to do in those moments and so just proud of everyone for being able to put us in that spot. You know, it’s something when you come from the back of the field and get 15th. But when you’re right there at the front middle part, it can really salvage a good day and that’s what we were able to do.”
How did Wallace survive all the late-race carnage that saw nearly a dozen cars spun out?
“Luck,” he added in a post-race release. “I don’t know where we stacked up – top 20 all day. I’ve made improvements on road courses, but out there I feel like I’m busting out qualifying laps and it’s just good enough to get that position. I got to figure out where to gain speed. I’ve got a great team behind me. Everybody at 23XI, I appreciate it. They gave me a decent car – a decent car to go out and learn with and survive. A good day for Embrace – in their first race for us with our Toyota Camry TRD. It was a good day. Good day to come out of Indy with a surprising top five.”
Wallace said he needed to gain speed, but he also took advantage of the varying pit strategies at the end of stage two. In fact, he finished third.
Wallace’s streak of three straight top-10 finishes gives him five this season, tying his career high. Three of his 17 career top-10 finishes have also come at Indianapolis (with the other two occurring on the 2.5-mile oval).
“It’s a really cool place,” he continued. “The last couple of races on the oval, we were top 10, so it’s good to come back and be competitive somewhat today. I still have to do a lot of learning on these road courses, but surviving, staying in the game. Crew chief (Bootie Barker), crew, everyone at 23XI kept us in the game to have a finish like this, so it’s good.”
P5 sound about right?😏 pic.twitter.com/79Dq0iJXJp
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) July 31, 2022
Wallace next turns his attention to Michigan International Speedway. Currently 20th in the championship standings, Wallace is in a must-win situation to make the playoffs.
“It seems like we’ve been beat down so much over this year,” he stated. “We’ve got four races to go to continue to climb. I’m proud of this team. I’m proud of everyone on this Embrace Toyota Camry TRD. Just have to keep going. We’ve got Michigan coming up. I’m really strong there so I’m looking forward to that. Richmond and Daytona and Watkins Glen – have to survive there.”
Wallace may claim strength but on paper, he hasn’t fared the best at Michigan with only one career top 10 — a ninth in the first race there in 2020 — in eight Cup starts. But Wallace also has a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory at that 2-mile track, taking home the trophy in 2017.
Five years later, Wallace will head there with momentum on his side.
About the author
Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.
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