Listen to this article
Wallace tried desperately to shove Ryan Blaney and get in position to race leader Austin Cindric for the win in Sunday’s Daytona 500. He succeeded in the first part but not in the second, coming about three feet short.
The runner-up finish in the NASCAR Cup Series’ biggest race was his second, the first coming in 2018 in his first fulltime season in the series.
“Great Speedweeks – we’ll come home second,” Wallace said. “I’m going to be pissed off about this one for a while. I was happy on the first second place we got a couple years ago.
“This one sucks, when you’re that close, but all-in-all, happy for our team, happy for our partners, and on to California.”
Wallace has proven to be a very talented superspeedway racer in his career and took home his first Cup Series victory last fall in a rain-shortened event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Four of his top six finishes in the series have come at Daytona and Talladega.
Once again Sunday, as the final stage of the 500 played out, Wallace found himself a critical player down the stretch.
“What could have been, right? Man, need to talk about some happy stuff here,” he said. “I’m just dejected, but the thing that keeps me up is just the hard work that we put into our speedway stuff and the hard work from everybody at 23-11 (Racing), proud of them, can’t thank them enough.
“I knew this was a big move last year for me to go out and be competitive, and we’re showing that.”
Austin Cindric, Team Penske, Ford Mustang, Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, Toyota Camry, Chase Briscoe, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang, Harrison Burton, Wood Brothers Racing, Ford Mustang, Aric Almirola, Stewart-Haas Racing, Ford Mustang, Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Camry
Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images
While Daytona is not typically a good indicator of how the rest of a season plays out, Wallace relishes getting off to a strong start.
“When you come out of the gates like that, it’s empowering, it’s encouraging. So, thanks, everybody, back at the shop,” Wallace said. “Back-to-back superspeedway wins, that would have been awesome, especially with it being the 500.
“I thought our Toyota teammates did good work until they got picked off 1-2-3 throughout the race, so we just had to survive.”