By Matt Courson, Staff Writer
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Bubba Wallace earned his best finish of the 2021 season Saturday in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. Wallace was able to avoid the carnage that occurred late in the event to initially finish third, the highest of his Toyota Racing teammates. He was promoted to second following Chris Buescher’s disqualification.
“Stay in it, that’s all you can do. I needed to win,” Wallace said when asked to talk through the last lap. “I was comfortable taking a hit if we were caught up in (the accident). You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do and I came out third. I was happy with that, but we needed to win to get in.”
Saturday’s event at the World Center of Racing marked the end of NASCAR’s regular season. So far in 2021, Wallace scored two top-five finishes and had an average finish of 19th in his first year driving for 23XI Racing, owned by Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan.
“Up and down regular season for us,” said Wallace. Thankful for opportunity. It’s a brand new team. Everybody is still figuring each other out. I’ve always said our superspeedway stuff is good. It’s good to give us a finish we deserved. I don’t think we were a winning car, so I can’t hang my head too much, but knowing that we needed a win (to make the Playoffs) and we came up just short stings a little bit.
“Thanks to Columbia for coming aboard our Toyota Camry this weekend. It looked awesome. It looked great. It’s the cleanest I’ve ever kept a superspeedway car, so maybe I will get to take this one home. Long night with a lot of perseverance.”
In 2022, Wallace will net a new teammate. On Friday, it was announced that Kurt Busch would join 23XI Racing after his current team, Chip Ganassi Racing, was bought out by Trackhouse Racing.