There was chaos in Kansas. Tires blowing. Pit-road mistakes. Multi-car crashes. The playoff grid is in trouble.
Bubba Wallace rose above it all.
Wallace 28-year-old Wallace emerged later in the day an engine during Saturday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway and held on to win his second race in his professional career. At the finish, Wallace outran Denny Hamlin who is one of the co-owners of the 23XI Racing team, for which Wallace drives.
Wallace led the race when he had 43 laps left and didn’t face any serious challenges throughout the race. Wallace led 58 laps in total.
“Just so proud,” Wallace stated to NBC Sports. “Pit team was fantastic today. We were able to get one wheel loose. We are just thankful. Thank you for the chance and for the opportunity for the opportunity to end the drama for many people.
For the second week in a row the non-playoff winner was crowned winner in a race. This makes the race on Saturday in Bristol Motor Speedway a critical one for a large portion of the field for playoffs. Erik Jones won last week at Darlington Raceway. Wallace’s win was the first time in history that the two races that were part of the playoffs were taken by non-playoff competitors.
Wallace’s first win was last October during a race that was cancelled due to rain in the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
He became the 18th consecutive winner.
In the order following Wallace and Hamlin in the final laps followed by Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr. as Toyotas won four of the five first places.
Bell is now in the lead in points and is now locked into round 12 according to points.
The results of the race have thrown up confusion in league standings in the third straight week. Bell has moved up three places to lead the points and previous leading Joey Logano fell three places to be fourth. Bowman moved up four spots to finish sixth. Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Chase Briscoe and Kevin Harvick are the four drivers who are below the cut-off for playoffs.
There were a number of problems on the pit road on Sunday’s race. Several teams having issues with insufficiently controlled tires as well as contact between cars as they entered and left pits. Nineteen of the 16 racers encountered issues.
The initial incident that involved an official driver in a playoff caused Harvick back to his garage during lap 34. Bubba Wallace and Ross Chastain were competing for position ahead of Harvick. The Harvick’s momentum drove him into the wall on the outside. Right-front damage to the car was too severe to repair in a hurry.
Tyler Reddick, another playoff driver, hit the wall after 20 laps after blowing a tire , and left his Chevrolet.
Kyle Busch lost control of his car in Turn 4 on lap 139. He sliding across the track, and then blew out his tires as he spun into grass. He missed one time in pits.
The Stage 1 Winner: Christopher Bell
The Stage 2 Winner:Alex Bowman
Who ran a great racing day:Bubba Wallace who was determined to dispel critics who minimized the significance of his win last year, in an event that was cancelled due to rain, took the lead on the final race of Sunday to claim his second career victory. … Fourth-place result pushed Christopher Bell into the point lead. … Alex Bowman had a record-setting 107 laps finishing fourth. He now is in sixth place in points.
What was a poor racing experience: for the second consecutive week Kevin Harvick was staring into the depths of. His car was badly damaged after he smashed into the wall on the outside during the race and Harvick was last. … Following an improvement in Darlington, Tyler Reddick logged the worst finish in Kansas following a blow-out tire that led to his car being thrown in the wall. He dropped six spots in the standings to finish 11th. … Joey Logano dropped the lead in points with 17th-place finishing.