Bubba Wallace Fights for Playoff Spot After Top-5 Finish

Bubba Wallace

Getty Bubba Wallace prepares for the first of two Pocono races.

The NASCAR Cup Series regular season is nearing its end, and there are several drivers fighting for the final playoff spots. 23XI Racing‘s Bubba Wallace is among this group, fresh off his first top-five finish of the 2021 season, and he is ready to make a push. The first step will be conquering Road America, a track where he has previous Xfinity Series success.

Wallace met with Heavy ahead of the July 4 race to discuss recent races, his new partnership with sponsor Chilisleep, a Netflix documentary about his season, and the trip to Wisconsin for a road course race. The 23XI driver explained during this interview that while he is excited about finishing fifth at Pocono Raceway on Sunday, June 27, he is already focusing on the future and stacking points.

“I mean we know we have a lot of work to do,” Wallace told Heavy on Monday, June 28. “We’re in a hole and we’re committed 100% to digging our way out and getting us in the playoffs. [Achieving the goal] is easy, just go out and win a race and we’re locked in. We’re heading in the right direction. We’ve just got to keep putting races together and executing all levels to accomplish that.”

Wallace Will Try To Capitalize on His Road America Experience

GettyBubba Wallace (center) races at Road America in 2015.

The Cup Series has not raced at Road America since 1956, but there are several drivers with previous experience at the road course. Wallace, AJ Allmendinger, Michael McDowell, and Tyler Reddick are only some of the examples. These drivers know that Road America is “unforgiving” to the inexperienced, which could create some chaos.

Wallace only made two starts at Road America during his brief Xfinity Series career. He finished ninth in 2015 while driving for Roush Fenway Racing. He then posted a fifth-place finish in 2016, the same year that McDowell took the checkered flag. Wallace will now suit up and take on the course for the first time as a Cup Series driver, but he is not sure how the inexperienced drivers will approach the track.

“Luckily, we get practice to kind of, you know, smooth out those emotions going into Turn 1 for the first time for a lot of [the other drivers]” Wallace told Heavy. “You know, being able to race there and build a resume is good. [I’ve] just got to remember how it raced and what else, what other tricks that I’ve learned throughout the years. It’s been five years, I believe. I think it’ll be fun and hopefully, it plays in our favor.”

Recovery & Rest Are Critical During the Regular Season

Bubba Wallace

GettyNASCAR driver Bubba Wallace prepares for a race at Martinsville.

As a driver fighting for a spot in the playoffs, Wallace has to be at the top of his game each and every week. He can’t afford to show up to the track exhausted due to a night of bad sleep. In order to keep himself rested and recovered, Wallace has partnered with Chilisleep, a company that created cooling mattress pads.

“It’s easy to go to sleep, calm, get your system, find out what temperature suits you and then you plug that in and go to sleep,” Wallace explained. “So for me, it’s the range between about 68 and 72 [degrees]. I’m a hot-natured body. So anything that cools me off I’m a big fan of.”

Wallace added that he was on an adrenaline high after taking fifth in the race at the Tricky Triangle, so he knew that it would take him a while to doze off while processing everything that happened during the doubleheader weekend. However, he messed with the temperature settings on his mattress and quickly fell asleep.

Wallace’s time at home and how he recovers from races will become one of the many storylines of the upcoming Netflix series. The streaming giant announced in April that Wallace’s first year with 23XI Racing would become the focal point of a documentary series. The episodes would follow the driver as he returned to Toyota and partnered with co-owners Michael Jordan and Denny Hamlin to pursue success.

“Yeah, [the filming has] been good. It hasn’t been too invasive, which is what I kind of told them from the get-go,” Wallace said. “I don’t want to be followed around 24-7. That just drains the life out of you. They’ve been like a fly on the wall and just capturing behind-the-scenes stuff just to show. You know, what it really takes to be competitive at the club level, so I’m excited to see the final product. [We] should be hopefully seeing some rough cuts here soon.”

The filming will continue when Wallace heads to Road America. The Cup Series drivers will take on the road course on Sunday, July 4, at 2:30 p.m. ET. NBC Sports Network will broadcast the action as Wallace attempts to win his first race of his Cup career.

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