Bubba Wallace personified perseverance on Saturday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway (MIS) as he posted the second top-10 finish in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) this season for HRE. The driver of the No. 61 AISIN Toyota Supra rallied from being involved in an accident and being two laps down to record a 10th-place finish in the organization’s first NXS appearance at MIS.
Per the matrix qualifying format, Wallace started near the back of the field and took the green from 36th. He instantly charged towards the top-20 and ran 22nd when a strategy opportunity presented itself during the lap 22 caution. The AISIN team called Wallace to pit road for fresh tires and adjustments to aid his loose handling condition just six circuits before the stage break. Wallace cruised to Stage 1 in 27th position on lap 30 while conserving tires and stayed on track while the vast majority of lead lap vehicles elected to pit.
Adversity appeared on the lap 36 restart after Wallace restarted in eighth position. A multi-car accident erupted directly in front of Wallace off Turn 2 and collected his AISIN Toyota Supra. The HRE team surveyed the damage to the left side of the No. 61 and made cosmetic repairs to the body, but the result was a significant shift in the aerodynamic balance. Wallace restarted 27th on lap 46 and soldiered up to the 17th position by the end of Stage 2. A tight condition subdued Wallace forward progress, and was forced to take on 25-lap scuff tires to start the final stage on lap 67 as a result of the earlier incident.
Wallace’s tight balance was magnified while running with a tire disadvantage compared to his competitors. A long green flag run relegated him to 25th one lap down on lap 90 before making his final pit stop for fresh tires on lap 93. During the cycle, Wallace was scored as low as 31st two laps down to the race leader, however, the HRE team’s decision to pit on the front side of the pit cycle allowed Wallace to net eight positions to 17th by the time a caution flew on lap 116. Wallace’s perseverance was on full display over the four restarts as he rocketed from 16th to 13th on the lap 127 overtime restart and regained his place on the lead lap. The race’s final overtime restart saw Wallace solidify his place in the top 10 to earn his second career top-10 NXS finish at MIS and cap off a remarkable comeback for he and the No. 61 AISIN team.
Bubba Wallace Quote:“It was hard fought, that’s for sure. I thought our AISIN Toyota Supra was pretty good. It was just a matter of getting track position and hanging on to it. We got caught up in that wreck on the backstretch, but perseverance is key. Got to keep your head in it mentally the whole time and wind up getting a lucky top-10.”