NASCAR: Bubba Wallace gets second Cup Series win of career at Kansas

·4 min read

Playoff drivers are 0-2 to start the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs.

Bubba Wallace got his second career Cup Series win on Sunday at Kansas Speedway as he held off 23XI Racing car owner Denny Hamlin for the win.

Wallace passed Alex Bowman for the lead with 70 laps to go in the 267-lap race and held the lead through the race’s final pit stop cycle. It’s the first regulation-distance win for Wallace after he got his first win in a rain-shortened race at Talladega in the fall of 2021.

“Thankful to shut the hell up for a lot of people,” Wallace said after the race.

As he noted in his quote above, there’s no delegitimizing the win at Kansas. Both Wallace and car were fantastic over the final stage and he gained time on then-second place Christopher Bell during the pit stop cycle. Bell finished third behind Hamlin.

Wallace was driving his No. 23 car in that Talladega win. On Sunday he was in the No. 45 for 23XI Racing as the team is chasing the owner’s title in the Cup Series. The No. 45 car qualified for the playoffs with Kurt Busch’s win at Kansas in May but Busch has been out of the car since July when he suffered a concussion during a qualifying crash at Pocono.

With Busch out of the car indefinitely and the car qualified for the owner’s title, 23XI put Wallace in Busch’s car and Busch’s substitute Ty Gibbs in the No. 23. The move was made to maximize the team’s chances of winning that owner’s title and Wallace’s win now automatically qualifies the No. 45 for the second round of the playoffs.

Harvick and Reddick crash out

Kevin Harvick found himself out of the race early again Sunday after his car hit the wall in the first stage. Harvick was on the high side of Wallace and Ross Chastain while racing in the top 10 and the car snapped loose and hit the wall.

The crash looked triggered by Chastain’s aggressiveness. He didn’t give Wallace much space — let alone Harvick — as he pinched the eventual race winner toward the wall. Had Chastain left the car lower on the track, who knows if Harvick hits the wall.

Reddick crashed out with an apparent flat tire or broken part while leading the race after Harvick’s incident. The two playoff drivers finished in the bottom two positions.

Points standings

Harvick’s wreck means that he is likely going to have to win at Bristol to advance to the second round of the playoffs. He’s last among the 16 playoff drivers and 35 points out of 12th place.

1. Christopher Bell, 2,108 points

2. William Byron, 2,098

3. Denny Hamlin, 2,097

4. Joey Logano, 2,090

5. Ryan Blaney, 2,086

6. Alex Bowman, 2,080

7. Chase Elliott, 2,078

8. Kyle Larson, 2,077

9. Ross Chastain, 2,076

10. Daniel Suarez, 2,056

11. Tyler Reddick, 2,052

12. Austin Cindric, 2,052

13. Kyle Busch, 2,050

14. Austin Dillon, 2,049

15. Chase Briscoe, 2.043

16. Kevin Harvick, 2,017

Race results

1. Bubba Wallace

2. Denny Hamlin

3. Christopher Bell

4. Alex Bowman

5. Martin Truex Jr.

6. William Byron

7. Ross Chastain

8. Kyle Larson

9. Ryan Blaney

10. Daniel Suarez

11. Chase Elliott

12. Austin Cindric

13. Chase Briscoe

14. Austin Dillon

15. Chris Buescher

16. Michael McDowell

17. Joey Logano

18. Noah Gragson

19. Justin Haley

20. Ty Dillon

21. Aric Almirola

22. Cole Custer

23. Todd Gilliland

24. Landon Cassill

25. Brad Keselowski

26. Kyle Busch

27. Cody Ware

28. JJ Yeley

29. Erik Jones

30. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

31. BJ McLeod

32. Harrison Burton

33. Corey LaJoie

34. Ty Gibbs

35. Tyler Reddick

36. Kevin Harvick

KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - SEPTEMBER 11: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #45 ROOT Insurance Toyota, waits on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on September 11, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS - SEPTEMBER 11: Bubba Wallace, driver of the #45 ROOT Insurance Toyota, waits on the grid prior to the NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on September 11, 2022 in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)