Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

Brake Failure Leads to Massive Hit for Bubba Wallace at Pocono

By David Morgan, NASCAR Editor

Over the last few seasons, brake failures have become commonplace at Pocono with speeds topping 200 mph entering Turn 1 on the 2.5-mile track. On Sunday, Darrell Wallace, Jr. became the latest to have a brake failure coming off of the longest straightaway in NASCAR, leading to a massive hit into the outside SAFER barrier.

“I’m okay. That was a huge hit,” said Wallace. “Babe, I’m fine, Mom, everybody back at home, I’m okay.  Hardest one of my career.  I was just telling them here there is no feeling like being helpless in that situation going off into Turn 1 and it scared the hell out of me.  I didn’t know if I was going to remember if I hit or not, so we are good.  Bit my cheek, banged my foot off the pedal, I’m okay though.  I will wake up tomorrow and be a little sore, but the safety has come a long way.  It’s good to be able to climb out of the car.

“Just an unfortunate ending for us.  Our Mile 22 Chevrolet was okay, it was decent, we were trying to get by and salvage a decent finish and had a brake failure.”

The extreme stress that Pocono can put on the braking systems in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series cars reared its ugly head with six laps to go, as Wallace’s No. 43 Chevrolet made an abrupt detour through the apron at the end of the front straightaway and the grass on the inside of Turn 1 before slamming into the Turn 1 wall.

Wallace’s mangled car came to a rest in the middle of the turn and after a few tense moments, the rookie dropped his window net to signal that he was OK and gingerly climbed out of the car. After getting out, he had to sit down for a few minutes to catch his breath before getting in the ambulance for the mandatory ride to the Infield Care Center.

He would eventually be evaluated and released, seemingly none the worse for wear, displaying his signature sense of humor in describing what had happened in the incident.

“The lap before I was holding off Aric (Almirola) going into (Turn) 1 and the pedal went to the floor so I went to the bottom.  Your natural instinct is to try to use up all the track when that happens.  So, it went to the floor, pump it up, get through the Tunnel (Turn) and through (Turn) 3 and then down into (Turn) 1 I started pumping it right past start/finish line and it blew.

“I can’t remember if I turned left or if it just kind of jolted to the left and I should have stayed to the right.  And I went for a hellacious ride and just for about two or three seconds, you can really slow it down and you are just helpless.  There is nothing you can do and you are just like, please stop.  And it does, it does when it hits the fence and all-in-all it was okay, knocked the wind out of me.  It took me a minute to let the window net down because that was the last thing I thought about, so apologize to everybody worried about that, but just an unfortunate ending for us and our Mile 22 Chevrolet.”

After starting 39th due to failing post-qualifying inspection, Wallace had moved himself into the top-25 in short order, where he would stay for the majority of the race. He was running 21st when the lap 154 crash occurred.

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.