Race Weekend Central

Bubba Wallace Relieved After ‘Hardest Week I’ve Had in a Long Time’ Ends in Playoff Berth

A 12th-place finish in the regular season finale at Daytona International Speedway proved adequate enough for Bubba Wallace to lock his spot into the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs. At times throughout the night, Wallace competed inside the top 10, but the No. 23 had nowhere to go to advance his position in overtime.

That didn’t matter, however, as Wallace knew he was in as long as there was no new winner.

“That’s the first time I’ve lifted before the line at a speedway race,” Wallace said with a smile. “I’d seen the 17 won and I’m like ‘I’m done, I’m out.'”

Early in the race, Ty Gibbs closed in on the cut line after scoring points in stage one. The rookie proved a real threat in stage two, at times equal or even ahead of Wallace. All that changed when Gibbs’ No. 54 slid sideways into Ryan Blaney in turn 3, triggering the Big One and taking Gibbs out of the race.

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After an update from his team, Wallace knew he was all good as long as no new winners emerged.

“I’m not showing much emotion. I am mentally drained. This week was probably the hardest week I’ve had in a long time,” Wallace shared. “I was throwing myself through the ringer mentally.”

Wallace, who typically contends at the super speedways, was not pleased with his race car.

“I didn’t like my car from the start of the race. Something was off. We didn’t have the 23 speed that we usually do when we come here. We survived. That’s what we wanted to do. We kind of knew where we were at, we just didn’t get a new winner.”

Wallace enters the playoffs as the 16th and final seed. He will begin his first ever quest for a championship at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, Sept. 3 in the Cook Out Southern 500, which will air at 6 p.m. ET on USA Network.

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