Bubba Wallace: ‘Days Like This I’ll Continue to Take’

By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor

Martinsville, Va. – A strong, consistent day at Martinsville Speedway earned Bubba Wallace a top-five finish in the Cook Out 400.

The 23XI Racing driver slipped outside of the top-five after green flag pit stops in the final Stage of the scheduled 400-lap race. An adjustment on Wallace’s No. 23 McDonald’s Toyota Camry XSE put him behind. However, the two-time NASCAR Cup Series winner pushed forward.

A caution with three laps to go gave the Bootie Barker-led team an opportunity to move forward. Wallace was one of nine drivers that opted not to pit. In the close quarters on a chaotic overtime restart, the Mobile, AL native muscled his way back into the top-five. Though he ran out of time after taking fourth from defending champion Ryan Blaney.

“I thought everybody executed really well today, we maintained, held serve on pit road and made great adjustments and just got behind on that last one,” Wallace stated. “I’m sure it’s a 1/10 of air pressure an adjustment that small can take you out. We’ll figure it out. I just appreciate everybody’s effort from Monday. This Sunday it’s 1000% effort and I’m appreciating that for sure.

“You can’t drive a slow car fast, right? So, when you have a fast car, there’s little things that may feel different that you have to adjust to or tweak and find out. And once you do that, you’ll be in line.”

A strong day for bubba wallace left the 23xi racing driver earn a top-five finish at martinsville speedway.
Bubba Wallace. (Photo by Zach Catanzareti/Kickin’ the Tires)

Wallace knew that the balance was off as soon as he left pit road after the green flag pit stop with about 100 laps to go. He was forced to hang on as others, whose adjustments worked better or pitted earlier, like Blaney, moved forward.

“We were behind soon as we came out of pits, the balance just wasn’t there,” Wallace explained. “So, I was just hanging on for 100 plus laps there and luckily caution fell and we were able to net a couple spots.” 

While the adjustment on Wallace’s car didn’t work as intended, he views it as a team-building moment. The 30-year-old and his team have been taking time to reflect in recent months. That has allowed Wallace, and his team, to have the confidence to earn better finishes.

“We do a lot of things that hurt our results, there’s no doubt about it,” Wallace admitted. “But we’re all taking a big self-reflection moment over the last couple of months and being like, ‘hey, let’s get our stuff together and we know what we’re capable of.’ It’s days like this [that] I’ll continue to take, (top-five) finishes, because eventually your name will be thrown in the winner circle.” 

The consistency and strength that Wallace had was showcased throughout the race weekend. In practice and qualifying the Toyota Racing driver was second fastest. Wallace followed that up with runner-up finishes at the end of both Stages, netting an additional 18 points. In both cases he caught the leader on the final lap of the Stage with little time to make a challenge to win the Stage.

“I was trying so hard I’d get to the leader’s back bumper [and I was] too late in the in both stages,” Wallace said. “That’s just something for us to go continue to work on and be better.”

The fourth-place finish is Wallace’s third top-five of the season and his first since Atlanta Motor Speedway. It is also the 19th top-five of his Cup career.

The top-five finish moved Wallace up from 14th to 12th in the points standings. He is 93-points behind leader Kyle Larson and 27 above the playoff cutline, currently held by Kyle Busch.

Next for the veteran driver is the series’ annual trip to Texas Motor Speedway. In nine starts at the No Limits, TX track, Wallace has one top-five and two top-10 finishes, including his most recent pole position and a third-place finish in last year’s event.

The Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway is scheduled for Sunday, April 14 at 3:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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