Bubba Wallace makes NASCAR history, wins rain-shortened Playoff race at Talladega
Updated: Oct 5, 2021
Darrell "Bubba" Wallace Jr passed Brad Keselowski with 71 laps to go and was ahead by .25 seconds when the race was red-flagged for, and eventually ended by, rain to win the YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Monday. Wallace picks up his first-career NASCAR Cup Series win in his 143rd start, becoming the second African-American driver to win in NASCAR since Wendell Scott in 1963. The victory is also the first for Wallace's race team, 23XI Racing, and co-owner NBA legend Michael Jordan.
When asked about the NASCAR history he had made, during his post-race interview, the Mobile, AL native had a tough time holding back tears. "It obviously brings a lot of emotion (and) a lot of joy to my family...it's pretty cool. I'm just proud to be a winner in the Cup Series."
Pure joy radiated through the 23 car pit box after getting the official word that the race was over:
Joey Logano finished third, Kurt Busch fourth, and Christopher Bell fifth. Chris Buescher, Denny Hamlin who also co-owns Wallace's team, Kevin Harvick, Erik Jones, and Anthony Alfredo rounded out the top 10.
The 500-mile event battled weather throughout the weekend and was postponed from Sunday to Monday afternoon after heavy rainfall did not give the chance for the race to begin. After avoiding two crashes earlier in the race, Wallace found himself out front on lap 117 when Ryan Preece's number 37 car crashed head-on into the turn-three wall, collecting Matt DiBenedetto and playoff driver William Byron.
Rain started falling once again on the massive 2.66-mile track shortly after, and with the amount of time it would take to dry the track and complete the entire event before nightfall, NASCAR chose to end the race.
As expected, the YellaWood 500 made an impact on the NASCAR Playoff picture. The updated standings are pictured below:
It was not a good race for three of the four playoff drivers at Hendrick Motorsports. Alex Bowman wrecked out of the race while leading, and William Byron got involved in the Ryan-Preece crash. Even Kyle Larson, who has six wins this season, couldn't avoid trouble after getting damage in a crash early.
Other than Denny Hamlin, no one is safe heading into next week's elimination race- The Bank of America Roval 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Chase Elliott will look to go back-to-back-to-back after winning there in 2019 and 2020. The green flag drops on the always-unpredictable Roval race this Sunday at 2 pm on NBC.