Bubba Wallace had one of the fastest cars in the first portion of Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway, but a blown tire derailed his day.
On lap 108 of the Hollywood Casino 400, the right rear tire blew on Wallace’s No. 23 Toyota. It shot him into the outside wall exiting Turn 2, breaking the toe link on the right rear. Wallace was running second at the time and said there was no warning something was going wrong.
“I got loose like five laps before, but I realized that was kind of my line and my approach to the exit of Turn 4,” Wallace said after finishing 32nd. “And then, three or four laps later, it blew out. No indication going into [Turn 1]. I’m [mad] at myself I wasn’t closer to the fence, and maybe we would have got by with less damage.
“You’re never going to get a flat tire or blow a tire when you’re running 20th; you’re going to get it when you’re really fast and lights out versus the competition. [Kyle Larson] was kicking our [tail], for sure, but then something happened to them and they weren’t a factor and [Denny Hamlin] and [Tyler Reddick] came out of nowhere.”
With the initial repairs on pit road done before the damaged vehicle policy clock expired, Wallace was able to rejoin the field and meet minimum speed. Although he was skeptical of doing so with an ill-handling car, he ran the required time when the race restarted on lap 114 to reset the clock. Doing so allowed his team to take all the time they needed to make more repairs when a timely caution fell a lap after the restart.
It kept Wallace in the race, but he was multiple laps down for the remainder.
Wallace finished second in the first stage (worth nine points) and led three laps. Last year, he won the fall race at Kansas Speedway and viewed Sunday as an opportunity race now that he and the No. 23 team returned as playoff contenders, the first time Wallace has been a part of the postseason field.
Hard to hang your head with a rocket..All ya can do is laugh and keep on keeping on.
How bout ole boy @TylerReddick! Way to keep the 45 streak alive!!
— Bubba Wallace (@BubbaWallace) September 11, 2023
Going into the weekend, Wallace was one point below the cutline. He falls to 19 behind a transfer spot going into Bristol Motor Speedway and the first elimination race of the postseason.