NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Bubba Wallace Grabs 1st Top 5 for 23XI Racing at Pocono

Bubba Wallace managed to execute a fuel-saving strategy to perfection.

Crew chief Mike Wheeler asked Wallace to save two laps of fuel at Pocono Raceway on Sunday (June 27) and he nailed the assignment, finishing fifth in the Explore the Pocono Mountains 350 for 23XI Racing’s first top five and first top 10 in the program’s 19-race history.

That fuel strategy originated when Wallace contacted the wall early in the race due to an aero push.

“That kind of put us behind so we knew we had to pull some strategy,” Wallace said. “I knew our car was good enough to be top 10 and execute. I didn’t know it was gonna come down to a nail-biter for fuel, but great call by Wheels, JR [Houston, engineer], everybody back at the shop that’s punching numbers, helping us calculate throughout the weekend. It’s a good day. Good weekend.”

See also
Kyle Busch Saves Just Enough Fuel, Wins Pocono Stuck in 4th Gear

Wallace went the first 12 races of 2021 without a top-15 finish. Now, in his last five starts, the No. 23 team has strung together four such results, three of which were 14th-place performances. The lone exception was last weekend at Nashville Superspeedway, where Wallace finished 20th after spinning twice.

It’s the kind of run and execution the program has needed all year long.

“Looking at today, it did come down to fuel mileage,” Wallace said. “A lot of people ran out, but we had a strategy and we stuck to it. Everybody knows [in] NASCAR that strategy is a part of it in some way, some fashion. Our race is usually get caught up by a caution and the strategy goes out the window. So we executed the way we should.”

Wheeler admitted he also learned from past strategies gone wrong, improving the output as he asked Wallace to manage the fuel load late.

“This is one of those tracks and a 550-(horsepower) package that it’s really hard to save that much distance with these low-horsepower specs,” Wheeler said. “We’ve tried it at Texas [Motor Speedway] before and failed miserably. That’s why you’re trying to coach it. And you’re still crossing your fingers. But the more he’s doing it for over 30 laps, you can get a better chance at it.”

Sunday also marked the first time all season teams had a chance to re-race a track, albeit this time with the next event just over 24 hours later. That allowed Wallace to provide feedback and Wheeler to handle the changes they felt necessary to make.

“Yeah, definitely having a race yesterday helps,” Wheeler said. “I think that’s what we saw early on. Once [Wallace] got track position, he was able to run forward and kind of run close to the leaders. I don’t think we were better than what the No. 19 or the No. 18 car was, that type of deal. But we weren’t tenths of a second off. We just needed a little bit.

“And it’s hard to get that last little bit. It’s hard to run as good as these guys do. They’ve been doing it for years. But I felt like again, we were a 10th-place car yesterday. We made a [14th]-place finish. We were going to be five spots better today. We still have to execute, right? But definitely, him having a night to sleep on what he had, looking at data to really go through it, I think that’s how it makes him a better driver.”

Wheeler noted this finish isn’t a cure-all. There are still things to improve, and perhaps even with strategy, noting that if there were two more gallons in the tank left over, that might be another two spots they could have gained. But he’s making sure they enjoy the moment, too.

“I think the other thing is to celebrate what we actually did do,” Wheeler said, “which was get a top five when we were behind the 8-ball to start stage three. There’s moments to actually celebrate, and you know it’s not a win, but for us, it’s definitely a step in the right direction. And again, with all these guys that work on the car and the ownership, it’s one of the first things we’ve done as a group. So [we’ll] celebrate that, enjoy it and get back to work.”

Ownership, by the way, was present at Pocono in the form of co-owner Michael Jordan. His other co-owner, Denny Hamlin, said Saturday that he and Jordan spoke prior to the first race of the doubleheader, and having him at the track can only be a positive.

See also
Denny Hamlin Fights for Top-5 Finish at Pocono

“Honestly, the neat thing is it doesn’t really affect myself and the guys too much,” Wheeler said. “It’s definitely obviously rewarding for MJ to pat you on the back for a good run or hearing the good aspects of the team, to see it firsthand. That’s one of those things, for any owner that sticks around and pats you on the back after a good run, you just appreciate that.

“Obviously, MJ is larger than life. Denny’s very much the same thing, so for them to commend you when they’re here in person, it does have a little more reward.”

The lack of consistent results throughout the course of the season has certainly slowed any feel of progress for 23XI Racing over the course of 2021. But Wallace acknowledged Jordan’s understanding of the sport and that the process of winning takes time.

“Everybody talks about, he’s a winner. He’s a champion. Yeah, but he’s also a realistic person,” Wallace said of Jordan. “He wants to win, for sure. But he knows what it’s gonna take for us to get there. [His presence is] more for me. It’s more for the team. It’s more of a group effort. And he’s in the background watching enjoying it.

“He’s hooked. Having Michael Jordan hooked to NASCAR is huge. And it’s getting a lot of other big names hooked as well. That’s what the sport needs.”

RACE WEEKEND CENTRAL: POCONO

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64 Comments
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TiminPayson

Really! this is your lead story from today? Why not just put BLM on your masthead

jobe

Why not put KKK on yours, Tim?

Furthermore, this is not the “lead story.” It was just the most recent when you visited the site.

Last edited 3 months ago by jobe
jobe

Look where Larson ran all day.

Carl D.

You do realize that Larson came from the back to a second place finish, don’t you? And he only started from the back because he cut a tire down on Saturday. Had he not cut that tire down, he’d probably have won both races. Out of the last seven points races, he’s finished first in three of them and second in three of them, with Saturday’s cut tire causing his only non-top-two finish in seven races. Plus he won the all-star race. Even haters have to agree that’s impressive.

jobe

Woulda, shoulda, coulda!

I’m not impressed.

Echo

I completely agree with you. Impressive 7 races for anybody.

Bill B

I agree too. Only someone completely blinded by hate couldn’t see how impressive that was.

jobe

Yeah, Larson made a point of making his excuses in his post-race interview. Just once, I’d like to hear him congratulate the winner or say he just go beat, but no, it doesn’t occur to him.

DoninAjax

Bubba can write his NA$CAR Hall Of Fame speech now. He’ll exceed the requirements, such as they will be, by the time he is eligible to join all the other deserving individuals. He’ll probably be inducted the same time as Emperor Brian gets in.

Lou

Wallace said after the race Sunday it’s time for pen to paper and resign new contract now. He’s a real asshole to think jordon will take one fifth place finish as the same as a win. Keep dreaming ol boy. As for ajax saying he can write his hall of fame speech well your dumber than Wallace. He’ll be back to his normal finishing place next week unless most the top tier names have bad luck. As for Larson if Hamlin did’nt check up to damage Larson’s front nose of car he would not have had to fight back. Last time I checked a 2nd is better than a 5th place. Wallace needs to fine him a pretty Asian girl cause he ain’t got nothing going on now.

DoninAjax

I was being sarcastic because every time he finishes above 20th he’s the greatest thing since Sliced Bread.

Tom B

Greatest thing thing since Sliced Marbled Rye Bread.
All teams will be wanting Bubba to be their driver next year.

jobe

It’s sad to see the blatant racism among NASCAR fans like you, Lou.

Roger

Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn now and then. Bubba is entitled to a lifetime job in NASCAR because he is black? His self esteem is reaching titanic proportions.
Entitlement is his game now the he is a super well funded “star”. What a joke.

Sally Baker

Almost as much venom here as if it was Dale Junior.

David Edwards

wonder how many other luck 5th place finishers have gotten this type of reaction? Few I suspect. Wonder why?

janice

his crew chief got his top 5 finish for him. it ended up being a fuel mileage race. when the drivers came in for last pit stops, many were told no more than they got back up to speed to start saving fuel.

jobe

It was a fuel strategy race. Everyone finished where they did mostly because of success or failure of their crew chief’s call on pit stops. Stop acting as if Bubba was the only one.

Bill B

The article was about Bubba that’s why he was mentioned in the comment (not necessarily singled out). When an article is written about another back marker backing into a good finish then maybe she will make a similar comment about that driver’s crew chief.

janice

fine kyle busch even make fuel mileage comment in post race interview. announcers were saying that kyle pitted a lap later than most so the others would run out of fuel or have to pit before him the race at that point was his to lose.

geez this place has become horrible. most of the folks commenting have been posting here for 5 or more years. don’t like what it’s turned into.

jobe

So, you’re uncomfortable being called out for racist comments? Too bad, so sad.

If Matt DiBenedetto had gotten a good finish and got written up for it, you wouldn’t have had a problem with it, would you?

Last edited 3 months ago by jobe
janice

i made no racist comment. just a comment about a driver who does not typically finish in top 5. and it wasn’t driver’s driving ability that got him the finish but his crew chief’s strategy. maybe if that driver had been called in a lap later than he was, he would had won.

Bill B

Who made you the judge of what is and isn’t racist? How come you get to decide where the line is?
Who the hell do you think you are you stupid, fumducker?
No matter who comments you have something nasty and critical to say. How is it that you can assume anyone saying anything negative about Bubba is racially motivated but when you are critical of Larson it’s not racial? What isn’t his skin dark enough for you?
Your double standard is obvious so why don’t you just keep your toxic mouth shut.
And for God’s sake, take your Prozac

jobe

As I pointed out to you last night, I disliked Larson before I had any idea he was Asian-American. I didn’t like his attitude.

Plenty of people hate Kyle Busch because of his attitude. Does that make them anti-German-American?

I see you didn’t respond to any of my posts last night refuting your accusation about the use of Larson’s nickname. I guess you realized you were beat there and decided to try again on a different thread.

Get over yourself.

Bill B

I did respond, I told you that you should take your Prozac. You refuse to do so and you continue to spiral out of control and irrationally lash out at people.

jobe

No, you didn’t respond to the substance of my post. You had nothing but your idiotic ravings. I guess you must be on Prozac to know so much about it. LMAO!

As for “out of control,” I’m not the one who stated that another commenter was going to be my “personal project.” Get a life.

Bill B

I don’t know. You seem to be arguing with everyone on the website. Most of my comments have been directed at one, holier that thou, know it all, loudmouth beatch. You tell me who is out of control. I’m just here to F with you because your extra special,.

jobe

I’m glad I’m giving you a reason for being.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that you and Matilda don’t respond to the substance of my comments because you got nothin’ !

She hasn’t responded to my stats comparing Bubba and Matty D pre-Cup. You haven’t responded to the wide use of Larson’s nickname by writers and broadcasters.

Bill B

Alright, DB, if you want to go down this road, what exactly does “yung” mean?

Last edited 3 months ago by Bill B
jobe

I didn’t coin the nickname. Ask whoever did.

And ask the FS writer and NBC Sports what it means to them.

I kind of assumed it was like Alan Kulwicki talking about his “Polish Victory Lap,” which, if you think about it, is equally offensive.

Since you have pointed out to me that the nickname may be offensive, I’ll stop using it. Now please contact NBC Sports and ask them to do the same.

Last edited 3 months ago by jobe
Bill B

OK here is the way I read it. Yung in fact means “young” and it has been misspelled to “Asian-ize” it in a negative way. Sort of like someone saying “flied lice” instead of “fried rice”. So it’s meant derogatorily.
As for saying “I didn’t coin the nickname” you are implying that as long as someone else said it first then it’s OK for you to use. Well there are lot of words people have used and written that are considered un-PC. Let’s consider rap lyrics. Could I use those as a guide as to what’s OK and what isn’t OK… of course not. Yet here you are, an enlightened, unracist, SJW and you are fine with using a word someone else coined that is probably racially tainted.
So that’s why I didn’t go down that rabbit hole yesterday… because you already knew you were using that word in a racist way.
Now go take your Prozac you nut case.

jobe

Look, Billy Bob, you have raised my awareness to the offensiveness of the nickname and I pledge to refrain from using it in the future. Until I looked it up, I assumed that it was a nickname that Larson used or at least accepted – hence my reference to Kulwicki’s derogatory use of the term “Polish Victory Lap.” (And I have ALWAYS found that term highly offensive.) You made your point that I was in error. So, good for you!

However, it doesn’t change how I feel about Kyle Larson as a cocky full-of-himself jerk, as I did long before I knew of his Asian heritage, so I will continue to cheer for his every blown tire.

It also doesn’t change the fact that except for myself and one other commenter on THIS particular thread, everyone else has posted relentlessly racist anti-Black sentiments against Bubba. When they apologize and pledge to refrain from doing that, I will consider the issue settled.

Now go have your 12th beer of the day, you useless old fart, living in your favorite driver’s glory.

Bill B

Oh my goodness everyone… mark the calendar.
Blo-be admitted she was wrong. Hell has truly frozen over.
BTW, I did not make one comment for or against Bubba in any of the comments in this story.

I still don’t understand how you can differentiate different kinds of hate. Hate is hate and that’s what pisses me off most about SJWs like yourself. You act all high and moral but you spew the same negativity as everyone else but somehow you justify it in some warped ends justify the means type of logic.
You can’t spew hate toward people you don’t like and then cry foul when someone spews hate toward someone you like.regardless of the reason. You personally have no more reason to hate Larson than I have to hate Bubba (and I don’t hate Bubba). You can’t draw the line where you want it and expect everyone else to abide by it because you are nobody and have no authority to draw the line (nor do I). Live by sword die by the sword. You reap what you sow.
So shove that where the sun doesn’t shine you hypocrite.

Steven

Does Bubba know of Wendell Scott? That man had more integrity in his big toe than Bubba has in his entire body.
Bubba has exploited the racial issues to his benefit while Mr. Scott fought quietly against so much prejudice. Mr Scott earned respect the hard way.

jobe

It’s time someone made the issue vocal and visible. Obviously, the racism in NASCAR’s fan base runs deep, and as usual, the comments here prove that.

Echo

The comments here, seem to me to be about earning your ride. Not entitlement because of race. Kyle Larson is just as much about diversity as bubba. Exactly the same. Kyle earned his ride yet you cut him down every chance you get. Are you being racist ! Do you feel bubba earned his cup ride or did he get it because he looks black. If bubba had been born white, would his achievements have warranted him a cup ride.

jobe

Oh, please! You’re spouting typical “what about” false rhetoric to shift the conversation away from hundreds of years of racism against Blacks.

“Exactly the same?” No freaking way!

Echo

You forgot to answer my question, again. Do you believe bubba earned his cup ride.

jobe

Yes, his record in Trucks (6 wins) and NXS (35 Top Ten’s) is comparable to what most Cup drivers accomplished before they got a Cup ride.

Echo

How about Kyle Larson, did he earn his ride ! What is your reason for the dislike ! Is it because your a Chase fan !

jobe

I’ve disliked Larson ever since he came into Cup, which was several years ahead of Chase. At the time, I was a Kyle Busch fan and still am. I always thought Larson was a punk and got attention merely because of his dirt track record.

Echo

Now Larson has 10 cup wins and a pretty impressive last 7 races. How could you not know he was asian. You are a dmphc for sure. Go away.

jobe

How? Because I wasn’t paying attention to his racial/ethnic heritage. It wasn’t of any importance to me. I didn’t realize until he was mentioned as a part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program.

As I mentioned to Billy Bob last night, I never realized Meghan Markle was Black when I watched her TV show. At the risk of getting more of your ridicule, I would say I am largely color blind about race.

Echo

Oh I figured you were largely

Bill B

That’s a load of crap. She doesn’t like Asians but won’t admit it..

jobe

You’re so desperate you’re funny!

Bill B

And you think your words are so important that everyone should believe your constant ejaculation of bull chit.
That is actually one of the withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking your Prozac.

jobe

Are you withdrawing from booze or are you just on a continuous bender?

David Russell Edwards

I disagree. Every driver gets their ride because somebody hired them, same as happens at every workplace. Sometimes it works out sometimes it doesn’t. I believe that most often it doesn’t, although that’s probably not a fair assessment, because we dont know why they were hired.. Yet it seems that only a couple have gotten the treatment here that Bubba has, and why is that? I find it interesting.

Echo

Fair enough. Arent most hired because of their qualifications and deemed a good prospect to help their new organization going forward ! I’m not going to research it, but I’d venture to say that most cup drivers have won in the Xfinity series in their progression up the Nascar ladder and their success has caught the eye of an employer. I find it interesting that bubba didn’t.

jobe

Compare Bubba Wallace pre-Cup with Matt DiBenedetto pre-Cup.

DiBenedetto had 1 Top Ten in ARCA and 2 Top Ten’s in NXS. He got a tryout with JGR and failed to deliver.

Wallace had 35 Top Ten’s and 6 Top Five’s in NXS plus 6 WINS in the Truck Series.

Yet you have no problem when someone writes an article about Matty D, but you go ballistic when someone writes about Bubba.

Maybe you SHOULD have researched it before displaying your blatant prejudice yet again!

Echo

In bubba’s best Xfinity season he finished 7th. Didn’t he drive for Kyle Busch in trucks. Nuff said there. 7th in his best Xfinity season. With that glowing resume it’s no wonder he got a cup ride lololol fess up, you know why he got a ride. Now he wants a new contract based on a 5th in a fuel mileage finish. Denny says he’s driving a Gibbs car equal to his.

jobe

Didn’t you say Denny was a dum-fuk?

Again, you people refuse to reply to the actual substance of my replies, because you can’t. You are too lazy to do the research and if you did, you’d find you were wrong about “most Cup drivers” having won in NXS.

Bubba did well in Trucks with KBM. DiBenedetto failed his audition with JGR. But when Matty D finished second a couple years ago and got a sh*tload of attention, you were probably one of his biggest cheerleaders.

Admit what’s obvious. You hate Bubba because he’s Black and like so many racists, you don’t believe any Black person gets his/her job on merit. And that merit includes the ability to attract sponsors.

Echo

Nope wasn’t me that called Denny that, but I won’t argue with anyone who did. In all honesty, I never look to see where Matty D is running or finished. Not sure why, just don’t. I don’t hate half black bubba. I don’t think he earned his way to where he is. I think he got promoted entirely because of his color and now he feels like he’s entitled and a great racer. Now phc off bch.

jobe

“Half-black”? Just the use of that term proves how racist you are.

Echo

Ask his daddy if that’s being racist

jobe

I don’t need to ask anybody. I know what you are.

jobe

I don’t think you’re capable of answering a direct question, lady.

David Russell Edwards

Not necessarily. Some, a significant number it appears these days, are hired because of the money they bring to the team. In fact I think that only the top teams arent that way. Evidently Bubba checked the boxes that team had. If they arent satisfied they can always let him go.

JER

I find it More interesting that Michael Jordan arguably the GOAT of his profession would get suckered to associate himself with mediocre talent.

Echo

Look at Michaels NBA team.

David Edwards

Suckered? By who? Wonder what conditions Jordan made before he would invest his money?

Lou

Trash this story. It’s old news.

Lou

Old stale news let’s talk about his 24 place on the road course. Heeheehee!!!

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