By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
CONCORD, N.C. – A top-five in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race doesn’t add $1 Million but gave Bubba Wallace a much-needed confidence boost.
Wallace restarted his No. 43 World Wide Technology Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 inside the top-five on the final restart at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He pushed eventual race winner Kyle Larson out to the lead and battled Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. After several laps, Harvick and Busch pulled away.
“I had it wide open on that last restart and when those guys pulled away, I knew we were done,” Wallace explained. “It’s just a different class, a different animal when you get up there.
“I had tons of fun tonight. I honestly haven’t had this much fun in a long time. It’s been a struggle, but it was a big night for us. When you don’t have anything on the line, I guess it means something different.”
As the laps clicked off, Wallace drifted backward. He lost a position to Joey Logano before taking the checkered flag in fifth. The top-five is a welcomed distraction from the rumors (all of which have been denied), about the future of Richard Petty Motorsports.
Wallace explained that despite the tough times, he plans to continue pushing forward.
“The first thing my mom said to me after the Open was ‘You know who that was? That was God. He’s not giving up on you yet’. I’ve realized that. As many dark moments that I’ve had and telling myself to give up, it’s been really tough. It’s been tough to keep coming in and keep going. Tonight, just shows that I’ll be back next week.”
The first All-Star Race appearance for Wallace came after two thrilling stages in the All-Star Open. The second-year driver had to transfer his way into the main event either via a stage win or the fan vote.
The RPM driver narrowly missed winning the first stage in a photo-finish in overtime with William Byron. Wallace then held off Daniel Suarez for the win in stage two that had a finish reminiscent of the finish to the 2005 Nextel Open which saw Brian Vickers win and Mike Bliss spin.