Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. started the Coke Zero 400 from the 31st spot in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford. He quickly raced three-wide using the top lane to gain track position. He raced as high as 20th before the caution on Lap 11. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer called for a four tire pit stop and chassis adjustment for a tight handling Ford Fusion. Wallace restarted 29th, and a quick caution four laps later allowed the team to pit for fuel only. Wallace restarted 24th and worked the top line to move his way through the field in the 20 laps remaining in the first stage. He raced as high as 10th and held the 15th spot at the end of Stage 1.
Needing more security on entry and to be freer on the exit of the corner, the team made a four tire pit stop and another chassis adjustment. The No. 43 Ford restarted 20th and raced as high as 15th before a caution on Lap 60 came out with Wallace in the 22nd position. The team stayed out which gave the Smithfield Ford the 13th spot on the restart. Wallace maneuvered around a 10-car incident that brought out the caution on Lap 72. The team stayed out during the caution and restarted 10th. Wallace drove into the ninth position by the conclusion of Stage 2.
Wallace radioed that he was a little tight as the tires fell off, so Blickensderfer called for a four-tire pit stop with an air pressure adjustment. He restarted 24th. The team utilized a caution on Lap 91 to stay out and gain track position. The No. 43 Smithfield Ford restarted 12th. Wallace drove around another multi-car incident and held the 10th position on Lap 99 when the caution came out. He restarted ninth but got stuck in the middle and fell to 16th. He again avoided incident when four cars wrecked in front of him. He held the eighth spot.
Blickensderfer called him down pit road for a four-tire stop. The No. 43 Ford restarted 11th on Lap 111. Wallace stayed out during a Lap 118 caution and restarted fifth. Another caution on Lap 122 found him in the third position. At the restart, Wallace worked his way to second and eyed the lead. Unfortunately, he got shuffled out and had to work his way back through the field. He made a pit stop on Lap 130 for four tires and a chassis adjustment. He restarted 26th and worked the draft up to 13th before the 42 car spun in front of the field and the No. 43 Ford had nowhere to go. The Smithfield Ford had damage to the front nose and flat spotted tires. Wallace came to pit road to fix the damage and change tires. He restarted 18th. Another caution setup an overtime situation. Wallace worked the draft in the final three laps and finished 15th.
“That was fun,” said Wallace. “Probably the most fun that I’ve had at the Speedway. I missed three, four wrecks. It’s just a big chess game. Today was way different than the XFINITY race earlier today. I was just trying to plan out my attacks. It seemed like every time that I went ‘there’ I was supposed to go ‘there’. It was bad timing; things you learn from. I hate that we got in that wreck late and put us in the back. A good rally to get to 15th. We keep improving. All and all it was a good day for our Smithfield Ford. It was great to have a Ford in Victory Lane.”