Bubba Wallace will start on pole for Sunday's event at Texas Motor Speedway. (HHP/Jim Fluharty)

Wallace Sets The Tone In Texas Cup Series Qualifying

Bubba Wallace enters the Round of 12 already 14 points below the cutline. Having to play catch up, the 23XI Racing driver kicked off the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs with a pole position for Sunday’s Auto Trader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway. 

“I set there, and I was trying not to overthink it before the first round climbing in the car. I was thinking qualifying has become my road course resume – I suck when we get through the first round,” Wallace said after his qualifying run. “I usually blow it going into the second. There’s nothing like putting that in your head and then you’re the fastest in your group.

“I really just wanted to execute for my team and show that I’ve been working hard not to do that and it paid off, but I really thought I gave it up in (turns) one and two so it will be interesting to go back and watch the broadcast and see just where we lined up,” Wallace continued.

“You have to have a car to be able to do that and to do that you have to have people to build that car. It’s all about the people at 23XI. Our team, the 23 team – the 45 (Tyler Reddick) as well. We are pushing each other to be better and better. It’s paying off, so I’m proud of the efforts. It’s nice for a moment, but tomorrow is the real job.”

It was Wallace’s second career pole in his career, with his last one coming last August at Michigan Int’l Speedway. The 29-year-old wheeled his No. 23 Toyota to a best time of 28.823 seconds, a mere 0.039 seconds ahead of RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher.

“That was definitely encouraging. It stinks to get bumped by the last car at the end like that,” Buescher said. “That is a bummer. But it is the first part of the weekend. Our Fastenal Mustang had a ton of speed there in qualifying and it is our best qualifying effort of the year so I am really proud of that.

“I am proud to have both the RFK Fords up here. It is a good start for us at a track that we have been looking forward to for a long time. It is hot and slick and we were still able to put good speed down, so I am happy with that. It is a good start for us.”

Behind the front row, Buescher’s teammate Brad Keselowski qualified third alongside Joe Gibbs Racing’s Ty Gibbs. Ross Chastain completed the top five in fifth, followed by two Chevrolet’s of A.J. Allmendinger and Kyle Busch. 

Daniel Suarez gave Trackhouse Racing a second top-10 starting position in eighth, while a pair of JGR Toyota’s in Christopher Bell and Denny Hamlin completed the final round of qualifying. 

Kyle Larson starts 11th, with fellow playoff drivers Tyler Reddick and Martin Truex Jr. qualifying 15th and 16th, respectively. 

Starting 18th is William Byron, who enters the Round of 12 tied with Truex for the most points above the cutline (25).

It’ll be an uphill battle for Ryan Blaney on Sunday, who was the slowest of the 12 remaining playoff drivers in 23rd. The Team Penske driver enters the Round of 12 in a six-point hole.