By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Every year, when Bubba Wallace drives into Pocono Raceway, there are a handful of career moments that hit his mind.
“You got: Last Xfinity start from full time. First Cup start. I thought I was gonna die [losing brakes in 2018]. Those are the three. Pocono is definitely a place full of emotions.”
Entering Sunday’s mid-summer race, Wallace was in good spirits Saturday morning as he continues to battle for one of the few remaining playoffs spots on points. In fact, the 23XI Racing driver has but two points to spare with only six races to run.
And though Pocono has seen it’s wild side, Wallace has scored his three best finishes at the track in his last three starts, including a high of fifth in 2021.
“I feel good about it. We’ve been fast enough,” Wallace said. “It takes everything to win one of these things. We have to keep doing our part, putting our name in the hat and it’ll turn around for us to get our win.
“We are in a spot — I can’t say a good spot because we’re in on two points — but we just have to continue to work hard and we’ll be fine. There are a handful of tracks we’re coming up on that are good to us.”
It’s been a tale of two seasons for Wallace, who strung together three straight top fives in early summer and who currently has career-best numbers in average start, average finish and championship standing.
However, five DNFs have faltered his blossoming year, dragging the No. 23 to the shallow end of the playoff field.
For Wallace, the correct mindset can make all the difference when the pressure is on.
“There is nothing that can take your mind off having a bad car,” he said. “You can’t say that’s what matters at the end of the day, all of it matters. When you’re in that moment and you have a lot of people relying on you, and you’re relying on the car… and you’re not vibing? Man, all that good stuff for nothing.
“You try to do your best on paying attention to the positive things that are surrounding you because that really affects the group around you, too. You show up with a pessimistic and down attitude, then people feed off that. And then nobody wants to show up and give 110 percent. We’re six races left and we need 110 percent.”