Despite Fatal Blow to Playoff Hopes, Bubba Wallace Proud of “Little Mental” Teammate Keeping Kurt Busch’s 45 Tradition Alive

Published 09/10/2023, 9:37 PM EDT

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While one of Denny Hamlin’s drivers delivered a winning blow on this week’s NASCAR race today, the other got his dreams crushed. Entering his first-ever Cup Series playoffs, Bubba Wallace, who, like others, eyed a decisive win at the Kansas Speedway and was looking to repeat last year’s win, had to be content with a bottom-30 finish.

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Despite carrying the pace, 23XI’s No. 23, who blew a tire in the middle of the race, was happy for his teammate, seeing his ‘buddy’ keep his and Kurt Buschs #45 tradition well and good. Speaking to the media post-race, the Alabama native chimed in with his take, revealing the “mental” side of this teammate.

Tyler Reddick continues the Kansas tradition after Kurt Busch and Bubba Wallace

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While Hendrick Motorsports‘ ace Kyle Larson got off to a winning start, claiming the victory at the playoff opener, Denny Hamlin’s driver got the 2nd win in Kansas. Now all that remains are 10 spots, with Larson and Tyler Reddick having secured 2 playoff berths for the next round.

Much like our prediction, Sunday’s race certainly was an all-out war between the #5 driver and the Toyotas. Larson aced the first stage of the race and took on a menacing form towards the closing laps of the race. For Bubba Wallace, who got a stellar win at the venue last year in the #45 Toyota, the #23 driver blew his tire in the 108th lap of the race.

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Though he was running second at the time, a blown tire got the #23 car into the wall, taking him back as he lost momentum. However, the driver is happy for his teammate, Tyler Reddick, who, with the win, advances into the 2nd stage of the playoffs.

Wallace said, “Congrats to Tyler(Reddick) I’m pumped for him for sure, glad he listened to me because I was running him down and then he got a little sketched out that I was a little close to him, trying to help him, he’s a little mental case sometimes but it all worked out and he got his dub and proud of him, kept the #45 streak at Kansas in the fall going so it’s good.” 

WATCH THIS STORY: How Hendrick Motorsports altered Michael Jordan’s team of an impending crash involving Bubba Wallace 

The No. 23 also reflected on his sudden fall from grace

The 23XI Racing driver always had a knack for Speedways, like when he won the race last year. The scene was set for another domination until the right tire blew up on the #23 Toyota getting Wallace further back on his game as he finished 32nd.

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Reflecting on the incident, Wallace said,I got loose like 5 laps before but I realized that was kind of like my line and my approach to exit turn 4 and then 3 or 4 laps later it blew out.” He then said that there was no indication and took the blame on himself. no indication going into one so I’m pissed at myself that I wasn’t closer to the fence,” said the driver. 

Though the driver lost his only chance to his teammate, Wallace was proud that Reddick kept alive the #45’s tradition at the track, something he and his former teammate, Kurt Busch were proud of.

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He further said, “Maybe we would’ve got less damage but you’re never going to get a flat tire or blow a tire when you are running 20th, you’re gonna get it when you are really fast and lights out versus the competition.” 

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Written by:

Kishore R

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Kishore is a NASCAR Writer at EssentiallySports. With a degree in engineering, Kishore's love for automobiles, particularly the roaring naturally-aspirated V8s, naturally led him to NASCAR. Kishore's writing is characterized by his intense passion for the sport, as well as his ability to conduct in-depth research and analysis.
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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta

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