Only three races remaining before NASCAR’s Cup Series Playoffs begin, and Bubba Wallace still needs a win to qualify for the 16-team field. His second-place finish in Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway was Wallace’s fourth-straight top-ten result. But falling only 2.9 seconds shy of the checkered flag behind Kevin Harvick was emotionally exhausting for the driver of the No. 23 car.
Following the race, Wallace spoke to a television reporter in the pits. He was very emotional, appearing to swallow some tears as his eyes welled up.
“Hate it for our team – it sucks,” he said. “It was a hell of a job for our team. There’s a lot of positives in this, but I’m a person who looks at the negatives more than the positives.
Wallace earned his first-career pole on Saturday. It was also the first pole in the history of 23XI Racing, which began fielding cars in the 2021 season. After only two top-ten finishes through the NASCAR season’s first 18 races, Wallace now has four consecutive top-ten results. It was his second runner-up of the year, having also finished second at the season-opening Daytona 500 on February 20.
“She was fast all week, man,” Wallace added. “I’ll wear this one on my heart for a while. I failed everybody.”
Bubba Wallace Remains Outside of Cup Series Playoff Standings
At this point in the season, Bubba Wallace needed a win. Harvick’s first victory in 65 races made for NASCAR’s 15th different winner in 22 events so far this year. A race win essentially clinches a spot in the Cup Series Playoffs. The only driver currently in the top 16 without a win is Ryan Blaney, who sits in fourth in the standings with eight top-five finishes.
Another surprising driver on the outside looking in is Martin Truex, Jr. The driver of the No. 19 car leads NASCAR this season with seven stage wins and ranks fifth with 455 laps led. But he has zero wins and only three top-five results. Truex and Wallace have three more chances to take home the checkered flag before the Cup Series Playoffs begin on September 4.
The Federated Auto Parts 400 – at Richmond Raceway this coming Sunday, August 14 – is up next on the schedule.