The anticipation Bubba Wallace felt on returning to the track where he made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series debut last season soon turned to disappointment when the engine in his No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Chevrolet expired after 108 laps, the result of a missed shift.
That terminal failure followed a pit road speeding violation that forced Wallace to serve a pass-through penalty, putting the prospect of a strong finish in jeopardy.
“I made a mistake on pit road speeding again here at Pocono,” Wallace said ruefully after steering his car to the garage. “We took the wave-around, and we were on older stuff (tires). The No. 95 (Kasey Kahne) was a little bit better than us, well, for sure better. I just tucked in behind him so we didn’t waste too much time and kind of did like a long shift and gave up a little bit of time.”
That led to the costly miscue.
“I did it earlier in the race around some cars and had no trouble with it. I just had too much weight and pulled to the left and went from third (gear) to second. I really hate it, and I have never done it before. It’s a bummer. She screamed pretty loud for a second and that was it. It didn’t re-fire after that.
“(Crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) came up with a good strategy to make us rebound from that penalty that we had, and I thought we were going to set ourselves up for a decent finish. That’s what we needed. We kind of struggled with some front grip all weekend long, but we started hitting on it right there at the end.”