Heartbreak for Bubba Wallace at Michigan

BROOKLYN, MICHIGAN - AUGUST 07: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #23 McDonald's Toyota, drives during the NASCAR Cup Series FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway on August 07, 2022 in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

He did almost everything right: won the pole, led 22 laps, and was in contention for the win almost all day long. When it was over however, Bubba Wallace came up one spot short of the win at Michigan.

Up until 35 laps to go Wallace was there. On the final restart he lined up alongside Kevin Harvick. As Harvick moved out to the lead when the green waved, Wallace was caught up in a three-way battle for second with Joey Logano and Kyle Larson. When he emerged with second Harvick had checked out to a 3-second lead.

Try as he might, Wallace could only watch as Harvick crossed the line to win by 2.9 seconds.

After stopping on pit road after the race, Wallace gout out of his Toyota and paused to collect his thoughts.

“Just replaying everything I could have done,” he said clearly fighting his emotions. “Took the top there on the restart. Thought I could hang with the 4, and just got to racing the 5 and the 22. And 22 did a good job of getting another Ford contract, helping a Ford win.

“Just all in all an incredible weekend. Appreciate my team. Wished we could have got Toyota in the victory lane. Wish we got McDonald’s back in victory lane. She was fast all week, man. Just I’ll wear this one on my heart for a while. I failed everybody. “

It was a banner weekend for Wallace. He won his first career Cup pole on Saturday and his runner-up finish tied his best of the year. Still, he obviously wanted more and knew what he wanted to do after the final restart.

“Got clear of the 5 (Larson) sooner,” he said. “He was doing his part putting it on my quarter there, keeping me tight. And just the side-by-side here allows the 4 to get away. Could have taken the top, pushed the 4, and then I could have been the 5 in that scenario, right? Just hate it. Hate it for our team. It sucks.”

His team co-owner Denny Hamlin finished third and came up and talked to his driver after is was over, telling him he and the team did a great job all weekend.

“It is a hell of a job for our team,” Wallace said. “There’s a lot of positives in this, but I’m a person that looks at the negatives more than the positives. I need to change that, but I want to win so bad, and this was the best opportunity.”