Two weeks ago, Bubba Wallace was on top of the motorsports world after making history, becoming just the second Black driver to win in NASCAR’s top series. After a top-15 finish the following week at the Charlotte Roval, the 23XI Racing driver headed to the Lone Star State, where he hoped he could flash some more speed and earn another top finish.
As any race car driver knows, winning one week doesn’t mean anything the next, and he instead got a Texas-sized helping of humble pie.
Bubba Wallace wins at Talladega and makes history
After three full-time seasons with the Cup Series, Bubba Wallace had shown his talent on superspeedways and come close to winning on several occasions, including a pair of runner-ups at Daytona in 2018 and again earlier this year.
The 28-year-old Alabama native finally got a breakthrough at his home track earlier this month, winning a rain-shortened race at Talladega. After the race, an emotional Wallace talked about his historic win.
“I know a lot of history was made today,” Wallace said. “I appreciate Michael Jordan, appreciate Denny (Hamlin) for believing in me, giving me the opportunity. This is for all the kids out there wanting to have an opportunity in whatever they want to achieve and be the best at what they want to do. Stay strong, stay humble, stay hungry. There’s been plenty of times when I wanted to give up, but you surround yourself with the right people and it’s moments like this that you appreciate it.”
Wallace causes massive crash early at Texas
After earning his first career win, Wallace came back down to earth the following week, finishing 14th at the Charlotte Roval, a track type on which he hasn’t typically done well in the past. This week, at the 1.5-mile track at Texas Motor Speedway, expectations were high for the No. 23 car because it’s a track where fast cars do well.
Wallace started 18th at Texas, next to Kurt Busch, his future teammate at 23XI Racing next season. With 31 laps to go in Stage 1, Wallace again found himself next to Busch but in a much more precarious position. The No. 23 car rode in the middle of a three-wide situation with Busch on the outside and Brad Keselowski on the inside when the car got loose, started sliding, and caused a massive wreck, which ended the day for himself and multiple other cars.
After a few minutes in the infield care center, an unhappy Wallace talked about what happened and accepted blame.
“Just an embarrassment on my part,” a dejected Wallace admitted. “Just trying to get clean air, went to the middle and I was like, ‘This isn’t good.’ I backed out. By the time I backed out, it was already around. Sorry to everybody that came here to cheer on the 23 car. I let everybody down. I let my team down. Apologize to them. We finish that in Kansas.”
No matter what happens Wallace has a win
Wallace knows he’ll always have his critics no matter what he does. He also knows he has a win, and no one can ever take that away from him as hard as they might try.
“It don’t matter if I did win by 10 laps, and it went the full distance, people are always going to put an asterisk beside my name because that’s just who they are,” Wallace said on the latest I Am Athlete – NASCAR podcast. “It’s not my time or place to invest in negative energy along with them. So I’m going to take my check, take it to the bank, enjoy that, and go on to the next one.”
He’ll take that same mentality into next week’s race at Kansas because Texas is one he wants to forget.