Bubba Wallace Notches First-Career NASCAR Cup Series Pole

by Nick Geddes

Bubba Wallace will be on the pole for the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday.

It’s the first-career pole for Wallace in the NASCAR Cup Series, who dusted the field in qualifying on Saturday. In addition, it’s the first pole in the history of 23XI Racing, which began fielding cars in the 2021 season. Wallace made his way around the two-mile oval in 37.755 seconds, reaching a top speed of 190.703 mph. Christopher Bell and Kyle Busch followed, making it back-to-back-to-back Toyota’s at the front of the field.

Wallace will have perhaps his best shot to win this season, looking to race his way into the playoffs with just four races remaining in the regular season. Wallace is currently 20th in the points standings, having picked up five top-10 finishes and three top-five finishes.

He hasn’t had much success in the Cup Series at Michigan, earning just one top-10 finish in eight races. Wallace, however, picked up a victory at Michigan in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2017.

Bubba Wallace Looking to Capitalize on Excellent Start to Weekend at Michigan

Wallace spoke to the media following picking up his first pole and was complimentary of the job his 23XI Racing team has done to get his car ready for this weekend.

“That was tough – it took me five years to get my first pole,” Wallace said, via Jim Utter of Motorsport.com. “It’s a testament to everyone at 23XI, everybody on this No. 23 team, they’ve been doing a tremendous job all year long. We just haven’t had the finishes we deserve. I’m proud of everybody sticking through it, a lot of adversity on this team. We keep showing up ready to battle and that means a lot.

“For us to come out here and get this pole, we knew we had speed from the [tire] test. That’s good when things are lining up. Now the real job is tomorrow, right? We know that’s a totally different ball game. Good starting spot for us but we kind of reset and get ready for tomorrow.”

Wallace, along with the rest of the field, will look to fend off the favorite in Chase Elliott. The points standings leader is knocking on the door of his first-career victory at Michigan. He has 10 top-10 finishes in 11 starts at Michigan, including three-straight runner-up finishes in 2016 and 2017. He’ll start Sunday in the 13th position next to Michael McDowell.

Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4 p.m. CT on USA.