Bubba Wallace came into 2023 with just six career NASCAR Cup Series top-five finishes on non-superspeedways. On Monday, May 29, he scored his third of the season, finishing fourth in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
And boy, did he earn it.
Wallace restarted outside the top 10 on the final restart with just 20 laps to go and picked off his opponents one at a time in a 20-lap surge to an impressive fourth-place finish.
“You just go where they’re not,” Wallace told Frontstretch post-race. “It sounds easy, but it’s super hard because you’re trying to find the cleanest air possible.”
Wallace hadn’t spent that much time near the front and was in no way a factor for the win. Prior to the rain delay, he found himself fighting with Aric Almirola for position, which wasn’t the best scenario for Wallace, as Almirola, as well as every other Stewart-Haas Racing car, was on a backslide to the point where none of them were inside the top-30 at one point.
When the race was red-flagged for rain, Wallace and Almirola got into a heated argument, with the latter shoving Wallace aggressively before the two were separated.
“Just frustrated with how we raced each other in stage two of the Coca-Cola 600,” Wallace told FOX Sports after the race.
Wallace later added, “When you walk around with two faces, that’s what you get.”
“I felt like he ran me all over the racetrack, and when he got by me, he shot me the bird,” Almirola told Frontstretch post-race. “So I just went to ask him why he shot me the bird. I felt like I gave him a lot of room and gave him a lot of respect, and he started mouthing off and saying a lot of bad things and cussing at me after he shot me the bird.”
When asked if everything was settled, Almirola added, “I got my point across. I let him know that it’s not acceptable. He’s not going to cuss at me and shoot me the bird.”
There was no further incident between the two when the race resumed, but Wallace struggled to find consistency throughout the race. However, with two lap fresher tires and a 20-lap sprint to the finish, the No. 23 charged to the front and even passed teammate Tyler Reddick, who had spent considerable time trading the lead with eventual race winner Ryan Blaney, to take home another top five.
With another great finish for the No. 23 team, Wallace feels that his first win of the season is just around the corner.
“We still got a lot of work to do,” Wallace said. “We continue to throw our name in the hat, and we’re there. We’re becoming a factor.”
Despite that, Wallace is just as elated that his best friend Blaney snapped a 59-race winless streak to reach victory lane, he told Performance Racing Network.
“How about Blaney? About time!”
About the author
Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Along with being an editor, he co-authors Only Yesterday (Wednesdays) and Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the site's primary Truck Series reporter and writer, and dabbles in SRX coverage, too. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is in pursuit of a Master of Journalism at Temple University. He is a theatre actor and fight choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.
You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.
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