By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Bubba Wallace finally brought 23XI Racing its strongest result to date in the NASCAR Cup Series. Thanks to an all-around team effort, Wallace brought his No. 23 DraftKings Toyota Camry home fifth in Sunday’s Explore the Pocono Mountains 350.
Wallace had a solid machine throughout the 140-lap race. But with fuel being a concern for everybody, team chemistry was vital to their result. As several contenders were unable to stretch their fuel to the finish, Wallace was among those who made it.
That’s something that came in the mind of the veteran competitor, who finished no better than 11th this season. With Michael Jordan in the building, safe to say it’s big getting a top-five.
“A lot of confidence for myself which is huge,” said Wallace.
“It came down to fuel strategy there, but I appreciate Wheels (Mike Wheeler, crew chief), J.R. (Houston, engineer), Freddie (Kraft, spotter), telling me what to do – 80% there, 60% here, the whole time. It got so annoying, but it worked out. That’s what it takes. It takes a team effort to pull off this.
“Great day for us. Great day for DraftKings – their first race is the first top-five for our team. That makes you want to resign, but all-in-all, really good day. Really good weekend for us. We knew that we had the speed. Bossman was here – MJ (Michael Jordan) was here. We had the whole staff out, so it was a good day. Good weekend.”
Sunday’s result puts Wallace 20th in the regular season standings, trailing Kurt Busch by 54 points for the 16th and final playoff spot. Heading into July, there’s seven races left for Wallace to accomplish one of the No. 23 team’s goals set right out of the gate.
“We wanted the Playoffs when we started the season. We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Wallace explained. “We know that we are in a hole, but it’s finishes like that, that we have to capitalize on the speed in our cars. Today shows what we can do. We’ve got to keep up the momentum.”
Road America is the site of the next Cup race, commencing on Independence Day. Live coverage of the series first visit to Elkhart Lake since 1956 begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC.