When the owners of the Bubba Wallace team Michael jordan and Denny Hamlin reflect on what happened to Wallace at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday, Monday’s debriefing might not be too pleasant. That’s because team leader Mike Wheeler took a calculated risk that backfired almost immediately.
Running P10 when a warning came out on lap 263, Wheeler left the # 23 Camry on the track when most of the leaders came looking for new tires. Wallace would lead the field to the green, taking the inside line for the restart. To say he fell like a rock would be an understatement because 11 laps after coming out of yellow, Wallace had fallen from the top 10.
Bubba Wallace was having a great time until …
Bubba wallace had remained in the top 10 for much of the final leg, and it looked like his first top 10 was in sight. His best result so far was a P17 in the Daytona 500, and nothing has looked good since. Three consecutive top-20s followed, and Phoenix Raceway turned out to be his best outing of the year.
So did Wheeler’s appeal make a difference? Bubba Wallace did not help his own cause when he chose the inner lane with 17 laps on his tires. He spun them around and made contact with Joey logano, losing his head a few feet from the waving green flag. It only took five laps to pull out of the top five, and he would end up finishing 16th behind race winner Martin Truex Jr.
While this is Bubba Wallace’s best result so far, it doesn’t take away the pain of knowing it could have been a lot better.