Bubba Wallace had one question after taking the checkered flag in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway:
“Hey Freddie,” Wallace radioed his spotter, Freddie Kraft. “What [are] they going to say now?!”
Wallace won for the second time in his NASCAR Cup Series career Sunday and happily put his finger to his lips in a gesture to his critics. He led twice for 58 laps, including the last 48 when he cycled back into the race lead after the final round of green flag pit stops.
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The No. 45 team gave him a gap of over 3s on Christopher Bell, helping their driver go unchallenged to the checkered flag. Wallace’s team co-owner, Denny Hamlin, finished second, 1s behind his driver.
“Man, just so proud of this team, so proud of the effort they put in each and every week,” Wallace said. “Just thankful for the opportunity. I took this jump for an idea two years ago from a text from Denny before it all even happened — he was ready to get the deal done.
“I appreciate him. Appreciate MJ [Michael Jordan], Curtis [Polk]…everybody on that side of things; everybody at 23XI. The men and women there — they work their tails off. Just so proud. The pit crew was awesome today; we had one loose wheel. Just thankful; thankful for the opportunity; thankful to shut the [heck] up for a lot of people.”
Hamlin, Bell, Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr. completed the top five. Bowman led a race-high 107 laps.
William Byron finished sixth, Ross Chastain seventh, Kyle Larson eighth, Ryan Blaney ninth and Daniel Suarez 10th. Playoff drivers Chase Elliott, Austin Cindric, Chase Briscoe, and Austin Dillon finished 11th through 14th, respectively.
Joey Logano finished 17th. Kyle Busch finished two laps down in 26th after spinning off Turn 4 on lap 138.
The final stage of the race went caution free. Bell won the first stage and Bowman, the second.
Kevin Harvick and Tyler Reddick were the only two playoff drivers who failed to finish. Both were knocked out of the race early because of crash damage.
Harvick hit the wall off Turn 4 on lap 34 and finished last. Reddick finished 35th after blowing a tire from the race lead and hitting the wall on lap 66.
A win with Wallace gives 23XI Racing a sweep of the races at Kansas Speedway after Kurt Busch went to victory lane at the track in the spring. Both drivers also won using the No. 45, as the organization swapped numbers to have the experienced Wallace compete for the owner’s championship. The win locks the No. 45 into the next round of the owner’s championship playoffs.
Wallace also made it back-to-back wins for non-playoff drivers to start the postseason.
“I knew Denny was going to be strong…he wasn’t a factor at the beginning of the day, and he comes up and finishes P2,” said Wallace. “That’s what I want to start doing when we don’t have the best days…capitalizing on moments like that. It’s cool to beat the boss, but man, we were just lights out today once we got to the lead. It was a lot of fun.”