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Don’t Pay Anything”: Bubba Wallace Gives a Reality Check, Hours Ahead of Texas

Published 09/25/2023, 11:19 AM EDT

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USA Today via Reuters

Bubba Wallace roared into the round of 12 at Texas with a stunning pole position ahead of the race on Sunday. It was an incredible result for the 29-year-old who had a point to prove after being consistently outperformed by his teammate Tyler Reddick in the round of 16. However, Wallace later revealed that winning the pole position in the NASCAR Cup Series is not what it may seem like. 

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For Bubba Wallace, the 2023 season has been one of improvement. The 23XI Racing talent has grown in every respect as a driver, be it the craft or experience. Wallace can only grow from this point on if he continues to keep his head in the game like he has all year long. The fruits of his labor finally showed on Saturday when he slapped his car on pole position in Texas.

Bubba Wallace drops the harsh reality of NASCAR pole-sitters


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Everyone knows the driver and pit crew of the #23 team haven’t had the best of runs this season. Due to crew mishaps, the 29-year-old has missed out on many victories. But the scenes ahead of the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400 were different. To give credit where credit is due, Wallace praised his team after Texas, in getting him his second pole in the Cup series.

He said, “When it’s time to step up to the plate and deliver, this is what these guys do, and so it’s time. It’s the playoffs. It’s what you got to do. You got to show up in big time moments and make big time plays. So I’m excited for today, but the real task is tomorrow. But it’s good to start out on the right foot.”


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Although pole position is a fantastic achievement for any driver, it has its uncertainties as well. For one, it certainly does not guarantee a race win. And on a track like Texas, Wallace was sure to be wary throughout the race, as he knew that things would get tough. Plus, we can never forget how clenching the pole can automatically paint a target at the back of any driver’s head. Along the same lines, just a few hours ahead of the race, Bubba made a statement. However, that was not the only harsh reality about winning poles in NASCAR.

When asked if starting from the front of the pack makes the round of 12 any easier, Wallace said, “Yeah, it’s just qualifying. They don’t pay anything.”

“It looks good on paper. This track is very treacherous. We have the best track position right now, but we know with strategy, everything is going to change and evolve. We are going to get behind at some point, so it is just a matter of making the most of every situation that we are in.”

It might be dim, but it is true. Drivers earn their plaudits and payday through where they finish in a race. And of late in NASCAR, pole position has rarely been converted into a race win. All it did was put Wallace in a good position for the start so that he could build a gap from the rest of the pack and be in a race-winning position in the end.

After everything, Bubba Wallace did find himself in a race-winning position towards the end of the race, only for it to be snatched away from him in the end by one of the youngest drivers on the grid.

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Toward the closing stages of the final stage, Bubba Wallace found himself in the lead of the race and with a golden opportunity to take that elusive victory and cement his place in the round of 8 After Tyler Reddick’s win in Kansas, Wallace’s victory at Texas would have made 23XI Racing a serious contender for the title. However, it was not meant to be, as the 29-year-old was outdone by a young Hendrick Motorsports driver by the name of William Byron.

After the race, the 29-year-old was pretty hard on himself, taking the blame for throwing away what looked like an almost certain victory.

“Third time I fooled myself starting on top. These guys gave me the right information. 14 is tight and he sent it off in there. I wasn’t going to stick, but that’s what he’s got to do. We’re racing for a win and just hate it,” Wallace said.


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The 23XI Racing man did finish in a good position and earned a good number of points. With Talladega being one of his favorite hunting grounds, will he be able to cement his place in the round of 8 come Sunday? Or will he perhaps need to rely on those points to get himself into the next round, again?

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh


One take at a time

Nilavro Ghosh is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. He started his journey as a motorsports fan with Moto GP and Formula One, before gravitating towards NASCAR a few years back. The high-octane nature of stock car racing paired with the racecraft on display drew him into the sport.
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Edited by:

Ranvijay Singh