“It Was Just Hurting Us”- Bubba Wallace Turns Diplomatic as He Cunningly Avoids Drawing Joe Gibbs’ Wrath

Published 10/02/2023, 6:37 AM EDT

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Teamwork was always going to be a huge element of Sunday’s round of 12 at Talladega Superspeedway for the Toyotas. Regular season champion Martin Truex Jr. alluded to how crucial it would be for all six Toyota drivers to work together. But come race day, things did not exactly go as well as they might have hoped. The Toyotas did work together for the most part, but for Bubba Wallace, it was just frustrating after a point.

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Bubba Wallace did not have a memorable race. The 23XI Racing driver finished in 23rd place and finds himself in an all-too-similar situation. He is 9 points behind the cutline with just one round of 12 races to go at the ever-tricky Charlotte Roval. After the race at Talladega, Bubba did not shy away from expressing his frustrations but remained diplomatic.

Bubba Wallace was left frustrated with his team’s plans

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Talladega was a hard race for the Toyota cars. Denny Hamlin was the only one who made it into the top 10 as he finished P3. The closest Toyota car finished the race in 14th place, the #20 of Christopher Bell. Things were even worse for Hamlin’s 23XI Racing team as the No. 45 and No. 23 finished P16 and P23.

Although Bubba Wallace has been respectful for the most part when it comes to team orders, be it JGR or Toyota, the No. 23 was not a fan of how things turned out. Teamwork might be the plan but if it ends up getting you in an unfavorable position, it is normal to feel frustrated.

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That is exactly what happened with Bubba Wallace. During the race, the 29-year-old was heard saying, “It’s just not working”. In the post-race interview, the No. 23 justified his comments diplomatically, avoiding any disrespect towards the team.

“We were trying to let Toyotas in. I’m all for it. So if Toyota or anybody at JGR sees this, I’m all for it. But it was just hurting us and it was just pulling us back. Do we gotta fight to get to the front, and then when it’s time to give and take we start doing it there but we’re riding 20th and the 8th? Come on, get in line and it’s like, that moves our line back so it’s like that, that didn’t really do us any help so we just gotta revamp it but yeah, just one of those days,” Bubba Wallace said.

It really was one of those days for the Toyotas. In the round of 16 even with just six cars, they were very effective. Two out of the three races were won by Toyota drivers. Last weekend in Texas, Bubba Wallace came so close to winning the race. But this weekend was far from a success. However, for one Toyota driver, it was a good day and that is Joe Gibbs Racing’s strongest title contender, Denny Hamlin.

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JGR title contender ends up on top despite a penalty

Denny Hamlin was hit with a green flag speeding penalty which put him a lap down, but the No. 11 made amends in the end as he finished the race in the top 5. Denny had initially finished in fourth place but with Kevin Harvick’s disqualification, was moved up the order to P3.

“I’m proud of this whole Mavis Toyota team for bringing me a car fast enough to win, and obviously when I had to go there, I could, and just made the right moves at the right time. A top five is a long way from where we were with about 15 laps to go,” Denny Hamlin said after the race as per the RACER.

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The JGR star was hit with the penalty on the 105th lap as a result of which the Joe Gibbs Racing driver went a lap down. But Denny Hamlin held his nerve and used all of his experience to navigate his way past the cars and the wrecks to end up with a strong finish for himself in Talladega Superspeedway.

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Written by:

Nilavro Ghosh

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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:

Shivali Nathta

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