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(Photo: Nigel Kinrade Photography)

Bubba Wallace Follows Emotional Open Win With Top Five in All Star Race

Bubba Wallace and Richard Petty Motorsports were off to a tumultuous start in 2019 — but a top five in the Monster Energy All-Star Race and a Monster Energy Open stage win might be the thing that saves their season and partnership.

A few weeks ago, Wallace was very vocal about how depressing the situation around him was. Through the opening 12 races, Wallace had only finished in the top 20 twice and on the lead lap once. His average finish was 27.1, a disappointment for the legendary No. 43.

More so, rumors have circled about the team’s future in recent weeks, even though RPM co-owner Andrew Murstein dismissed them. The team also lost STP as a primary sponsor for a few races this year, and is no longer receiving support from Smithfield brands.

A lot of the negativity was silenced at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night (May 18) when Wallace won the second stage of the Open to qualify for the All-Star Race. Wallace was beat in a photo finish by William Byron in the first stage before bouncing back and holding off Daniel Suarez in stage two.

“Ever since I was a kid, they said I drive better pissed off,” Wallace said. “I was really pissed off after that. I let that go… I was like, ‘Alright, I’m not giving it up this time.’ So you do what you got to do.”

Emotions ran high after the win. Wallace could be seen fighting off tears after a hug from fellow driver and best friend Ryan Blaney.

“First thing my mom says to me after the Open — she walks up on the grid here — she says, ‘You know who that was? That was God. You know he’s not giving up on you yet,'” Wallace said. “I’ve realized that. As many dark moments as I’ve had, telling myself to give up, I know it sounds like a broken record, but man, it’s been tough, it’s been really tough to keep climbing in and keep going.”

But Wallace’s eventful night didn’t end with him just making the race. He worked his way through the field and ran as high as fourth in the night’s main event, ultimately settling for fifth. Team co-owner Richard Petty, despite his seven championships and 200 wins, never had a top five in the All-Star Race (the event started late in his career).

But Wallace now does.

“Tons of fun tonight, I honestly haven’t had this much fun in a long time — I guess dating back to Bristol [Motor Speedway] in the spring of last year. Since then, it’s been a struggle,” Wallace said. “Just a big night of momentum.

“I’m showing teeth in my smile, so that says a lot.”

Wallace said that not having to race for points encouraged the team to run more aggressively.

“When you don’t have anything on the line, I guess it means something different. Maybe we need to run for Xfinity [Series] points, but still run the Cup car because it don’t matter.”

The race won’t save RPM of all financial shortfalls, but it certainly helps. NASCAR no longer releases winnings for the rest of the All-Star field, but the result helps the team a tremendous amount more than if Wallace had not won a stage in the Open.

In 2015, the last year the winnings were releases, majority of the Open field earned less than $30,000. In comparison, fifth place earned $114,705 in the All-Star Race that year. That’s not to say those figures are exactly the same now, but RPM definitely came away with a lot bigger payday than was expected.

“Well, we didn’t win a million dollars, so we’re a million dollars short,” Wallace said. “We still got some work to do, but we’re doing a lot… We look at next week, I know it’s going to be totally different, but we got a baseline to work off of, I think. So that’s big.

“We just have to keep doing those types of races and stringy together some consistent runs and we’ll see what the financials stand at.”

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About Michael Massie

Michael Massie
Michael Massie is a writer for Frontstretch. Massie, a Richmond, Va. native, has been a NASCAR superfan since childhood, when he frequented races at Richmond International Raceway. Massie is a lover of short track racing and travels around to the ones in his region. Outside of motorsports, the Virginia Tech grad can be seen cheering on his beloved Hokies.

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17 comments

  1. Avatar

    With all of the negative comments I see on this website (and other racing websites), I feel like half of the “fans” don’t even watch these race and just come on to complain and cause drama. It’s extremely annoying and creates an unpleasant atmosphere for everyone

  2. Avatar

    Can anybody just be happy for somebody geez. This is why the sport is dying. To many old farts upset because times have changed

  3. Avatar

    Totally Disgraceful. Bubby should be banned for life.

  4. Avatar

    Yaaay.

    Seriously, I will always pull for an underdog to do well in any given week.
    I was even more impressed with Hemric and Preece until they tangled at the end (and even that was cool).

  5. Avatar

    He’ll get a dose of reality next week. He can spend the week anticipating it.

  6. Avatar

    uh, he didn’t WIN the open…he won a stage…

    That said, he did have a good night last night….happy for him.

  7. Avatar
    Ronnie Hawthorne

    I screamed for a NASCAR finish for the first time in years at the end of open round 1 and open round 2. I admit to being a die hard NASCAR fan but this is big. When anyone beats the top 4 years, Hendrick, SH, Gibbs and Penske, it is very much worthy of a celebration. Great win for a small team and a very likable young man !

  8. Avatar

    OMG. Can’t people just feel good for the kid? No one has said he’s the ‘next JJ’, just that the team has finally seen some positive results. How mean spirited to try to suck what little joy he has found out of a night that was a winner for him and his team.

    • Avatar

      Some people live in a negative pissed off world, and can vent it behind a key board to feel better about their pathetic lives.

    • Avatar

      Just another race car driver trying to have a successful career. Same as any of us would do given the opportunity. There were people who hated Dale Junior simply because he wasn’t his dad. They blamed him for being given a top tier ride when most any driver would have given their pinky finger for that opportunity. I never understood why anyone found fault with Junior’s accomplishments. Same with Bubba.

  9. Avatar

    OMG, what is the obsession with “BUBBA”? He finally got a top 5 and he is now on the way to becoming a superstar? He also emotes so you gotta feel sorry for him and give him a participation trophy for a top 5. Sad commentary on our times.

    • Avatar

      Flubber
      will be back to normal next week, crashing himself out of the 600. Wanna laugh ! An old senile s elf called NASCAR expert woke up during the race and drooled outloud, fs1 isn’t fox, why is DW on there ! Painted up clown.

    • Avatar

      Man y’all talking trash about bubba.well he is all rpm has .rpm is on edge of going under. Which would mean no 43 car on track anymore .so a top 5 is great.when u ain’t finish

    • Avatar

      It’s the same obsession when the former driver of the #10 car would string together consecutive Top 15 finishes.

      • Avatar

        Yes, those of us who live in the real world and know the truth/facts do see “BUBBA” as DANICA 2.0. The NASCAR media acolytes and the “feel good” snowflakes could not be more happy!