Bubba Wallace Clinches First-Ever Berth In The NASCAR Cup Series Championship Playoffs
NASCAR Cup Series star Bubba Wallace achieved an important milestone on Saturday, Aug. 26, clinching his first-ever championship playoffs berth with a 12th place finish in the Coke Zero 400 at the Daytona Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida.
An emotionally spent Wallace described the week leading up to Saturday’s race as “probably the hardest week I’ve had in a long time,” with the stress of staying hyper-focused on protecting his playoff position.
“So many people told me today, control what you can control,” he added. “If you do everything you can do, you can only be mad but for so long. We didn’t have any dumb errors, we didn’t take ourselves out of it, we didn’t speed on pit row; we just executed like we’re supposed to.”
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Wallace, who races for NBA all-time great Michael Jordan’s 23XI Racing, had the final playoff spot going into the race, which RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher won. By coming in 12th—avoiding a heart-stopping crash involving 12 cars, including two drivers who could have knocked him out of the playoffs—Wallace enjoyed an emotional post-race celebration, including a congratulatory hug from Jordan. In addition to Wallace’s success, Jordan witnessed the other driver on his Toyota team, Tyler Reddick, make NASCAR’s post-season.
Wallace joins a field of 16 drivers pursuing a Cup Series championship in NASCAR’s 75th Anniversary season. The playoffs consist of a 10-week, four-round run to a final-four, winner-take-all finale at NASCAR’s Phoenix Raceway on Nov. 5.
Wallace, who described his post-season clinching performance as a fight for survival, looks forward to taking his talents to the next level: “Now, we just have to go out and execute, and put it all together.”