LEBANON, Tenn. — Shortly before his qualifying attempt went awry Saturday at Nashville Superspeedway, Bubba Wallace said he was trying not to hold on to anger after disappointing performances.
After posting the fastest lap in practice FridayWallace looked to be a candidate for his best starting spot of the season — he has not qualified better than seventh this season. Instead, his car was not compliant and Wallace qualified 30th for today’s race (5 p.m. ET on NBC).
Disappointment has been a centerpiece of Wallace’s season at 23XI Racing. The result is he is 25th in the standings with 10 races left until the playoffs.
“We’ve got to win,” Wallace said. “I don’t know if we can point our way in. We’ve dug our hole deep enough to where we have to show up and not hold back on anything.”
The key will be to avoid many of the problems that have plagued Wallace and his team this season.
After finishing second in the Daytona 500, Wallace has not placed better than 10th. There was nothing for him to celebrate that day at Kansas. He was among the fastest cars but pit road woes — including two penalties — left Wallace frustrated with his crew.
His only other top-15 finish came at Atlanta. He was running second when the white flag waved but fell back to eighth before he was collected in a crash ahead of the finish line. He placed 13th after what he called one of the hardest hits in his career.
Last month’s Coca-Cola 600 proved frustrating when the team made a mistake that led to an early exit. After being involved in a crash shortly before the end of the second stage, Wallace was on the damage vehicle policy clock and required to make minimum speed within three green flag laps.
His car had minimal damage, so the team made a decision to save the vehicle the rest of that stage and ride behind the pack. But in doing so, Wallace did not make minimum speed and was forced out of the race by the rule.
#NASCAR … @BubbaWallace on path to playoffs in the next 10 races: “We’ve got to win.” He was fastest in practice but qualified 30th. Keep an eye on him today at @NashvilleSuperS on @NBCSports and @peacockTV pic.twitter.com/E0tMuIb6mz
— Dustin Long (@dustinlong) June 26, 2022
Wallace finished last at Sonoma when his engine blew after nine laps. That ruined the start of his off weekend. He, Ryan Blaney, Daniel Hemric and another couple stayed in California a few extra days to relax but Wallace admitted he couldn’t after that finish.
“It was really hard to really enjoy the first couple of days, just found myself thinking about racing and thinking about all the missed opportunities that we had let slip through our fingers,” Wallace said.
Even so, Wallace is trying to follow advice Kurt Busch gave him last year before they became teammates.
“It’s just letting little stuff go, focus on the big picture, making the most of that moment. That stage that you’re in, make the most of it,” Wallace said. “Then you get a reset.
“Kurt Busch told me that after I junked him at Darlington last year, he said, “Every stage is a reset. Carrying over something from the first stage to the third stage, you’re just hurting yourself and your team, so understand that and enjoy the moment that you’re in.’
“It gets frustrating at times. You get run over or you have a bad stop, or I go and hit the fence somewhere. It sets you back. You let that go. You build on continuing to be there. I look at plenty of races where cars have been down and out and they just grind through it and they get good finishes.”
That’s what Wallace will look to do from deep in the field.
Pre-race coverage of today’s Cup race at Nashville Superspeedway begins at 4 p.m. ET on Peacock. To get Peacock go here. Race coverage begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBC and Peacock.