Bubba Wallace frustrated once more after losing out on a chance to win the Daytona 500 again

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 19: William Byron, driver of the #24 Axalta Chevrolet, is congratulated by Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald's Toyota, in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Bubba Wallce was once more the bridesmaid and not the bride in the Daytona 500. Having shown that he can be a prolific superspeedway racer he came into Monday’s Daytona 500 having finished runner up in NASCAR’s biggest race, twice.

He said his finish Monday, and indeed his losses in the Daytona 500 are a result of not being able to have a chance to be in a position to win when it matters.

“We don’t give ourselves chances in the 500,” he said.  “We’re always trying to come from behind, whether that’s my doing or just not executing. Unfortunate, you know?”

Monday a bit of luck played into it as well. In the closing laps his 23XI Racing team told him he would have to pit for fuel before the end. Had he been forced to do pit, his finish would have been a lot worse than his final spot of fifth. Wallace acknowledged that a late race crash that he was able to avoid, however, allowed him to stay out.

“Luck was on our side, but that’s not something we needed because we lost all our track position there,” he said. “Feel like you need to be in the top three rows to have a shot at this race. While we came from 14th, our McDonald’s Toyota Camry was fast enough to get to fifth, but you don’t know, right? What if we restarted fourth or in the lead?

“I don’t know, man. I’m so frustrated, but proud of this team. This was the cleanest 500 car I’ve ever had. That’s nice! Lot of positives. The team, 95% execution, but you got to have 100. I don’t know exactly what happened. Just didn’t need that, but proud of the race we ran. Have a full race under us to go debrief and come back stronger for the next race here.”

Greg Engle