By Jerry Jordan, Editor
HAMPTON, Ga. – Bubba Wallace was understandably upset at the conclusion of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, on Sunday, as he was in position to win the race on the final lap of the race but he wasn’t blaming his drafting partner, Ryan Blaney.
Wallace, who drives for 23XI, was getting help from Blaney, who drives for Penske Racing were going to try and chase down William Byron. It was shaping up to the point where Wallace or Blaney, either one, might have been able to make a move for the win. As they took the white flag and they headed into Turn 1, the No. 23 and No. 12 were trying to draft with one another and go to the front. That’s when Stewart-Haas Racing’s, Chase Briscoe, got a run and slammed into the back of Blaney’s car. That momentum propelled Blaney into Wallace and both Blaney and Briscoe ended up hitting the outside SAFER barriers. That cost Wallace his drafting partner and in milliseconds, his McDonald’s Toyota Camry lost positions that were impossible to make up with just three-quarters of a lap to go in the race.
Following the race, Wallace spoke with Kickin’ the Tires but hadn’t yet seen how the incident with Briscoe had played out for Blaney. The two are close friends and often find themselves helping each other during superspeedway races.
“No, it’s not the finish we want, bad timing on the 12, it’s not his fault but when we got connected, we were just in the corner, I am assuming,” Wallace said. “And I am like, ‘oh we’ve got a big run coming from Blaney’ and the next thing you know I was fully locked to the right. It’s the hardest hit I have had though, so I am going to be sore tomorrow.”
For his part, unleashed a colorful tirade of comments over his radio after Briscoe took him out of contention. His comments were a little more subdued after he climbed from his car but he was still very clear on where the placed the blame.
“The 14 just shoved me into one when we were stacked up and you can’t do that,” a very agitated Blaney said, after the race. “You’ve got to get off people and we ended up just getting destroyed. We were in a decent spot to win and have nothing to show for it.”
To his credit, Briscoe admitted he made a mistake and owned up to the fact that he got into the corner too hard and caused Blaney to lose control of his car, which pushed him into Wallace in the middle of the turn.
“I thought we were gonna come out third or fourth and was trying to help the 12 and, honestly, to shove him to potentially the win and I went in there and I just got him loose into one and obviously we both hit the fence because of it,” Briscoe said. “It’s unfortunate. We were both gonna have a really good day and I kind of shot ourselves in the foot there.”
Wallace, who took the white flag in second, would end up finishing the race in 13th with Blaney ending his day in 17th. Briscoe left Atlanta Motor Speedway with a 15th place finish. Byron pulled away and held off Ross Chastain to get the win.
Photo: Christian Koelle/Kickin’ the Tires