Bubba Wallace seeking Texas shine following last year's playoff shadow

Bubba Wallace seeking Texas shine following last year's playoff shadow

FORT WORTH, Texas — “I finally watched the replay.”

Following his fourth-place effort last Sunday at Martinsville Speedway, Wallace admitted that he hadn’t revisited last year’s playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway that saw the No. 23 Toyota lead a race-high 111 laps before a late-restart lane choice allowed William Byron to steal the victory while Wallace settled for a third-place showing.

For Wallace, it was heartbreak the size of the Lone Star State. But seven months later, the 30-year-old driver has come to terms with that event, having studied it and entering the weekend with hopes of redemption.

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“Still pissed off from it but you got to be as ready as you can,” Wallace said. “There’s a lot of different factors to take in for [Saturday] and tomorrow, so how’s that going to translate over to what we need for balance in our cars? There’s just a lot of things that I’m kind of analyzing right now as I speak. But nonetheless, I’m excited to get on track, so I just got to make sure we can execute all weekend.”

At the quarter pole of the 2024 season, Wallace may not have the results to show across the board, but he’s had consistent speed through the first eight races of the year with three top fives.

Before contact with Kyle Larson in the closing laps at Richmond, Wallace was in line for another top five until a slow pit stop parachuted the No. 23 team to a 13th-place run.

Short tracks and road courses weren’t Wallace’s strong suits entering 2024, but with his performances on both, plus back-to-back top fives to kickstart the year, he finds himself 12th in points, which is Wallace’s best Cup Series points position through eight races in his career.

“Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely a better start than what we’ve had,” Wallace said. “Usually, we’re continuing to fall for the next two or three months, and then we’ll find the rest all throughout the summer. Now, we’re in a spot to where we can’t slip up. So I’d rather have that pressure so that points us all in the right direction to perform. Proud of the team. Last weekend was a great weekend for us. I think you just have to not be complacent, stay hungry and be ready for whatever comes your way.”

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Wallace has momentum following Saturday’s sessions at Texas.

He only put down the 25th-quickest single lap in practice but was top 10 in consecutive lap average and put the No. 23 10th on the grid for Sunday’s 400-miler (3:30 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).