By: Zach Catanzareti, Staff Writer
Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. hit a career-high number Saturday at Michigan International Speedway when he placed his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet in the ninth spot after 400 miles.
Though ninth place isn’t a career-best result, it did surpass another career number, as the result was his fourth top-10 finish of 2020 making it his most in a NASCAR Cup Series season.
“I’m definitely smiling,” Wallace said following his eighth-career top 10. “I know this whole COVID-19 deal has been tough. I haven’t been able to go to the shop and show my appreciation (to the team) and how much they really work and make our cars better week in and week out. It’s been fun.
Restarting third at one point due to the debut of the choose rule, Wallace showed aggression and pace to stay among the top 10 throughout the rash of cautions in the final 20 laps. Though restarting fifth with two laps to go and falling to ninth, Wallace was full of smiles after the first of two races this weekend at Michigan.
“To come out with a solid top 10 is a positive,” he said. “We have a lot of work to go. I was not happy with the car, but I think that’s the racer mentality. I’m not sure if Harvick is happy about his car either. We always strive to be better. All in all a solid day.
“The choose rule… good job NASCAR, that was fun. It brought me back to the shootout days. I didn’t piss as many people off as I did at the shootout.”
For RPM, the result was their first top 10 at Michigan since 2013. Additionally, the fourth top 10 of the season makes it their most in a single season since 2017 when Aric Almirola drove to six top 10s in the famed No. 43.
With consistent improvement on display by the third-year Cup driver, Saturday was another fun day for Wallace. Especially since there is a “big deal” on the line for one of the question-mark drivers of the 2021 NASCAR Silly Season.
“Everybody say a prayer for us. There’s a big deal on the line right now and this can only help so much,” he said. “I’ve yet to check my phone to see the status of it. This will send us over the top if we can get it done.
“Been a lot of hard work off he racetrack from my team, everybody involved to make things better and that’s what we’re trying to do. So putting solid runs tighter and having awesome restarts all night, this is only going to help the effort.”
A solid top-ten run for @BubbaWallace puts him back in the top 20 in the standings.
Bubba also teased a "big deal" off the track. pic.twitter.com/PEDzU9q8CJ
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) August 9, 2020