Road course or oval, Indianapolis continues to be kind to Bubba Wallace

Road course or oval, Indianapolis continues to be kind to Bubba Wallace
Courtesy of Toyota Racing

Racers and gamblers often say they’d rather be lucky than good.  

On Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Bubba Wallace was both.

Despite finishing fifth in the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard, a career-best for the 28-year-old racer on a road course, Wallace had difficulty enjoying the result.

“No, I'm not happy with it,” Wallace said. “I'm glad we got a top five for sure. But that was 100-percent luck, right? We were able to miss some wrecks, but I was able to maintain a little bit, but I've just got to figure out how to be better.”

Wallace qualified 19th. He restarted the second stage eighth and moved up to third by the end of the segment on Lap 36. He was 18th after his final pit stop—and, as he said, maintained from there. But all bets were off after Christopher Bell blew a right front tire with five laps remaining in regulation. After a subsequent restart on Lap 80, a fifth and final caution for a Turn 1 melee sent the race into overtime, and Wallace capitalized on the opportunity. 

“It wasn’t pretty,” said Wallace, who was the top finishing Toyota at Indy. “I closed my eyes on the last one and I picked off four or five guys and the next thing you know, we were sixth.”

After Ross Chastain was penalized, Wallace moved up to fifth—his third consecutive top-10 finish. In the first 22 races of the season, Wallace's three top fives and five top 10s are career best and there are still 14 races remaining.

But Indy has been kind to Wallace. He finished third and ninth in his last two starts on the 2.5-mile oval. His 13th-place run in the Grand Prix course's debut last year had been his best on a road course before Sunday. Compared with his three previous road course starts in 2022, when Wallace didn't finish better than 35th, the effort by the 23XI Racing team at Indy was a step in the right direction.

“I’ve got a great team behind me,” Wallace said. “Everybody at 23XI, I appreciate it. They gave me a decent car – a decent car to go out and learn with and survive.

“I really care about road courses,” Wallace said. “I know I talked bad about myself about them, but I really want to be good one day, and I'm still way far away. It's just a good day for us and we'll go on and go to Michigan, right?”

Wallace was selected to represent Toyota at the Goodyear Tire test at Michigan on May 31. Despite having a left front tire blow out during the exercise, he’s optimistic regarding this weekend’s FireKeepers Casino 400.

“We had a really good test there a month-and-a-half ago, two months ago,” Wallace. “I felt really good about that, so should be solid. I’m really strong there, so I’m looking forward to that.”

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