Photo: Logan T. Arce/ASP, Inc.

‘We Needed This’: Wallace Tops the Board in Cup Practice at Nashville

By David Morgan, Associate Editor

LEBANON, Tenn. – Bubba Wallace has gotten his weekend in Music City off on the right foot, putting up the fastest time in the lone practice session ahead of Sunday’s Ally 400 at Nashville.

While Ross Chastain put up the fast time early, it was Wallace who would come out as the fastest driver at the end of the session, taking his No. 23 23XI Racing Toyota to the top of the board with a lap of 29.609 seconds, 161.708 mph.

In addition to the fastest single car speed, Wallace also put up the second fastest 10-lap average and the fastest 15-lap average.

“We needed this,” Wallace said. “Hell, I needed this. The whole team needed this. It’s just been bad luck after bad luck every week. We were the first car out of the race two weeks ago and we’re the first car on the top of the board, so I’ll take that trade off.

“Just happy for Root (Insurance). Feel like every time they’re on the car, they get the short end of the stick. Shaping up to be a good weekend. Really happy with our Toyota Camry. We went right out and had a lot of speed and did what I wanted it to do. Just really small things we need to work on to be better. Proud of everybody. Good job.

Wallace added that even after all the bad luck the team has had this season, he has come into the home stretch of the regular season with a renewed mindset, looking to put all of that behind him.

“I’ve just tried not to carry the bad luck with me – the bad luck mindset,” Wallace said. “I’m a very sarcastic person and that tends to rub people the wrong way. Even people on my team, but they know I’m joking.

“Just letting that go and focusing on the big picture at hand and knowing we have good race cars. It’s just circumstances that take us out. So, if we can just execute one step at a time – get through practice top of the board, it’s a good job, we’ll go into qualifying tomorrow – but it’s about our team here.

“We’ve been let down a lot and as a team, it’s frustrating. We all rally around each other and we’ll go to battle on Sunday.”

Fellow Toyota driver Kyle Busch finished practice in second, followed by Tyler Reddick, defending race winner Kyle Larson, and William Byron to round out the top-five.

Wallace’s 23XI Racing teammate Kurt Busch finished practice in sixth, with Chastain falling to seventh by the end of the session after his early stint at the top of the leaderboard. Ryan Blaney wound up eighth, followed by Denny Hamlin in ninth, and Martin Truex Jr in 10th.

Next up for the NASCAR Cup Series is qualifying at 1:00 pm ET Saturday, followed by Sunday’s 300-lap main event at 5:00 pm ET on NBC.

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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.