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NASCAR Cup Watkins Glen

Bubba Wallace: Daytona will be "stressful as hell"

Bubba Wallace holds the 16th and final spot in the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs ahead of the regular season finale.

Wallace entered the road course at Watkins Glen with a 28-point buffer over the competition.

Unfortunately, road/street courses have been a struggle for the two-time NASCAR Cup Series winner with no finish better than 18th in the previous four races this year.

He needed a solid day, and more than that he needed a repeat winner. In the end, the 23XI Racing driver got both. While William Byron claimed his fifth victory of the 2023 season, Wallace started and finished 12th.

His points margin extended from 28 to 32pts in the playoff fight. 

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, McDonald's Toyota Camry

Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing, McDonald's Toyota Camry

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

"Thanks to Byron for winning that," he said post-race. "Didn’t have a new winner. I’m proud of myself. That’s the first time I felt proud of myself at a road course race. I just executed and didn’t lose focus -- maybe one time. And, that’s the difference maker. You’ve got to stay on it at these places. Just hats off to my team for sticking with me and believing in me on these road courses.

"I know we still have one more to go, but we wanted to maintain our gap and not lose too many and we gained. Hats off to everybody on the effort we put in. Thanks to Toyota for believing in me, McDonalds and all of our partners involved. Just a great day for the 23 team. Now, we get to go in Daytona stressful as hell, but it takes a little bit of the edge off for sure.”

Enlisting help from an IndyCar legend

Wallace actually credited six-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon with helping him get in the right mindset before the race.

“Shout out to Scott Dixon. I actually talked to him this morning about the mental piece of it. It’s hard when you come into a road course race, and you tell yourself that every time. He basically told me to shut the hell up and that I’m here for a reason and to trust in myself and believe in myself and this is what can happen. I don’t think I had one lap where I said I was going to suck, so it was good.”

While Wallace hopes for another repeat winner at Daytona, the chances of a new driver in Victory Lane are very real. There's a total of 16 drivers in the field whose win would mean elimination for Wallace, and among them are several former winners at the iconic superspeedway.

Wallace himself has a victory at Talladega Superspeedway, and has enjoyed several strong performances at Daytona in the past including two runner-up finishes in the Daytona 500.

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