It was a career day for Bubba Wallace during Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway, as the 23XI Racing driver started on pole and led a race-high 111 laps.
However, his bid for a third career victory was dashed on a restart with six laps to go when Hendrick Motorsports’ William Byron surged ahead of Wallace in turn three, eventually winning on the 1.5-mile oval. Wallace attempted to pin the No. 24 of Byron in the third corner to stop his momentum, but to no avail.
The driver of the No. 23 Toyota placed third, placing the blame on himself for not securing the checkered flag in the dire stages of the race.
“Third time, I fooled myself starting on top. These guys gave me the right information. The 14 (Chase Briscoe) was tight and he sent it off in there. Wasn’t going to stick, but that’s what he’s going to do,” Wallace said after the race. “We’re racing for a win. I just hate it. I should have just kept my line into (turn) three and forced William (Bryon) to get tight.
“But we’re so vulnerable in these cars, right? But just upset with myself. Really needed a win there, and it was a good showing. I don’t know where that puts us. I don’t really care. But I know what I did, and I choked.”
While a victory would’ve been the most optimal way to kick off the NASCAR Cup Series’ Round of 12, Wallace gained substantial ground on the playoff grid.
The 29-year-old vaulted from 14 points below the cutline to a mere two markers as the series now heads to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for the second of three races in the Round of 12.
“You’ve just got to process things slower,” Wallace said. “I feel like I’ve made a massive improvement in that, processing things a little bit better, but when it comes down to crunch time, you have to keep it all in check. The best restarter in the game gives it up on a restart. Funny how that works.
“Appreciate everybody; McDonald’s Toyota Camry was good out front. Struggled in traffic a little bit, but we grinded, come out with a good solid points today. Appreciate everybody’s support and effort, and we’ll go on to Talladega.”
Talladega has known to be a strong track for Wallace, who scored his first career Cup Series victory there in the fall of 2021.