By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
He wasn’t a playoff spoiler, but Bubba Wallace still had a career day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The Richard Petty Motorsports driver moved into the top-10 in the final stage. Wallace’s No. 43 World Wide Technology Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 picked off position after position. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver avoided the late attrition to break into the top-five with 50 laps to go.
Wallace battled Ryan Blaney and William Byron as he moved closer to the lead of the Big Machine Vodka 400 at The Brickyard. As the race came down to a nine-lap shootout, the Mobile, AL native positioned himself in third. Wallace momentarily challenged for second before being forced to settle for third.
Wallace was speechless as he summed up his day.
“Heck of a day. I don’t know to say. We had speed all weekend in our Victory Junction Chevrolet. We never gave up all day no matter what happened on pit road. I still don’t know what happened. We went from the lowest of lows, to the almost highest of highs! It was just a solid day for our team.”
The top-five run almost never happened. Under the first caution, Wallace was involved in a multi-car pile-up on pit road. He narrowly avoided running over crew members from Jimmie Johnson’s team in the incident.
After pitting for repairs to the left rear, Wallace restarted 38th. By the time the second caution had waved, the 15th-place qualifier had climbed inside the top-20.
Wallace first turned heads when he was fifth on the speed charts in the opening practice session. The small Richard Petty Motorsports team has been in the midst of its’ first season after restructuring during the off-season.
“Smaller organizations having big runs, it is very uncommon these days. Almost like David and Goliath. Everything kind of clicked today for us. These little teams aren’t supposed to run with the big teams. It was a good day.”
The third-place finish is just Wallace’s second top-five finish in his Cup Series career, the other came in the 2018 Daytona 500. It is also his first top-five this season.