Bubba Wallace May 14, 2023; Darlington, South Carolina, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23) on pit road pre-race at Darlington Raceway. Mandatory Credit: David Yeazell-USA TODAY Sports

Bubba Wallace had a great car at Darlington. But after some pit road issues sent him back to the middle of the field, he spent all race trying to get up to the front.

Wallace finished fifth, moving him up to 15th in points and inside the playoffs by 23 points. Fifth at a tough place like Darlington and a fourth at Kansas last week are worth celebrating, but Wallace felt a NASCAR decision kept him from a better finish.

Wallace took to Twitter a couple hours after the Goodyear 400, sharing video of Kevin Harvick’s in-car camera. Wallace tweeted, “Hard to accept a solid top 5 when the inconsistency is so consistent, mind boggled how we finished behind cars caught up in a wreck. What could’ve been….”

This stemmed from the Martin Truex Jr-Joey Logano wreck with 13 laps to go. As Truex got into Logano and was turned into the wall, it collected other cars behind them. Harvick, specifically, took a massive hit and slowed down but was able to continue.

Wallace argued that Harvick, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, and Ryan Blaney were involved in the crash and, therefore, should lose their position until they could get out of the wreck and blend in with the rest of the field. In an overhead shot of the wreck, Elliott, Keselowski, Harvick, and Blaney are on the top, piled into Logano and the sideways Truex. Drivers like Wallace, Harrison Burton, Justin Haley, and Chris Buescher slowed down and took to the apron to avoid crashing. Keselowski and Blaney fell behind those drivers, while Elliott and Harvick were behind some more cars.

NASCAR wreck

Instead, the restart had Elliott, Keselowski, Harvick, and Blaney fourth through seventh. Burton, Wallace, Haley, and Buescher were eighth to 11th. Reporter Kelly Crandall got some clarification from NASCAR, saying that NASCAR used the previous scoring loop and determined those cars were not in the wreck as they “maintained reasonable speed at the caution.” Wallace responded with a seemingly sarcastic “Bahahahaaha.” Followed up with, “We gained positions BECAUSE WE MISSED the wreck. lmao this is comical.”

Other than the start/finish line, we don’t know exactly where the scoring loops are. Wherever it was, William Byron must’ve passed the Harvick/Keselowski/Elliott/Blaney group before hitting the loop that determined the running order because he did the same thing as the Buescher/Burton/Wallace/Haley group and got to start in front of everyone.

As a result, after Kyle Larson and Ross Chastain crashed on the ensuing restart, Byron took the lead and cruised to an easy win, while Harvick, Elliott, and Keselowski held up the rest of the pack with their damaged cars to stay in the top five.

This isn’t on Harvick, Elliott, Keselowski, or Blaney. They have every right to start near the front if NASCAR permits. They knew they wouldn’t win, but they got as many points as possible. It comes down to a judgment call, NASCAR made their decision, and people will just have to agree to disagree.

Who knows if Wallace or Burton would’ve had a chance to compete with Byron for the win, but they would’ve had a better chance over Harvick and Elliott.

[Bubba Wallace]

About Phillip Bupp

Producer/editor of the Awful Announcing Podcast and Short and to the Point. News editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. Highlight consultant for Major League Soccer as well as a freelance writer for hire. Opinions are my own but feel free to agree with them.

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