In fact, despite rallying from an early-race slow pit stop to finish fifth, Wallace continues to maintain he could he done even better if not for what he contends was a mistake with the lineup following a late-race caution.
On a restart on Lap 281 of what was scheduled as a 295-lap race, Kyle Larson nudged Ross Chastain toward the wall in Turn 2 while battling for the lead.
Just behind them, Joey Logano turned Martin Truex Jr., which also collected several other cars, including Kevin Harvick, Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski, among others.
However, when NASCAR went to the previous scoring loop to set the lineup on the next restart, it included three cars – Harvick, Elliott and Keselowski – that were involved in the accident and placed them ahead of Wallace, who was not.
Had those cars remained in the lineup where they blended back into the field, Wallace would have likely been third or fourth to start overtime and could well have finished even better than fifth.
“Unfortunately, we had that one bad pit stop that set us behind, but this team never gives up. It feels good to rebound fifth,” Wallace said after exiting his car. “I keep looking at that (scoring) pylon and I’m still pissed off.
“There are a couple cars up there that were in a wreck that got put back in front of us. That’s bull crap and it’s frustrating that we got beat like that because I feel that our car was really good, especially at the beginning.
“I thought we were a second-place car to (Truex). All in all, this No. 23 team, proud of our guys, proud of the pit crew for rebounding and giving us a shot with a good points day.”
NASCAR officials maintained it kept Harvick, Elliott and Keselowski in the positions from the previous scoring loop because they slowed for the crash as instructed and didn’t spin as they kept reasonable speed.
However, video from the incident appears to show all three collected in the accident while others such as Wallace completely avoided the accident and drove on past all of them while under the caution.
“I feel like we could have finished third,” Wallace said. “I know I’m beating a dead horse and it doesn’t mean anything, but it’s frustrating because we got beat by that today.”
After a dismal start to the year, Sunday was Wallace’s second consecutive top-five finish and has now finished 12th or better in five of his last six races. During that span, he’s risen from 23rd to 15th in the series standings.
“We were close. It was a good points day and we have to keep climbing. It’s a long, long season with a lot of races left in front of us,” Wallace said.
“I said it last week, it should be scary for the rest of the field that we’re on this roll and on this roll for momentum reminds me a lot of the fall last year. Just have to keep building off of it.
“We have the week off next week – let’s go get in some fights and win a million dollars (at the All-Star Race) and then go kick their ass at Charlotte like we did last year.”