Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr., filling in for the injured Aric Almirola, made his fourth start in the No. 43 Smithfield Ford this weekend at Kentucky Speedway. He took the green flag from the 17th position and quickly made a jump on the restart. He raced as high as 14th before the Competition Caution on Lap 32 with the No. 43 Ford Fusion in the 16th spot. Wallace radioed that the car was loose into the turns and tight off. Crew Chief Drew Blickensderfer called for a four-tire pit stop and chassis adjustment, and the team restarted 16th. The last changes hurt Turns One and Two, so the team made big changes during the first stage break after finishing the stage 20th.
Wallace restarted 19th. Two incidents collected multiple cars and brought out the caution on the next two restarts. During the Lap 95 caution, the team elected to pit for fuel only and restarted 18th. A little tight off the corner, the team stayed out during the Lap 113 caution and restarted 14th. Wallace ran as high as 11th before an incident on track brought out the caution on Lap 138. The car became freer, so the team pit for four tires and another chassis adjustment. Restarting 18th, Wallace drove into the 15th spot at the end of the second stage. He was really happy the last run with Turn Three but still was a little loose off Turn Two.
A two-tire pit stop during the stage break gave the team the ninth spot on the restart. Wallace drove up to eighth but lost positions to cars with fresher tires. He held the 17th spot when the field began green-flag pit stops on Lap 207. Blickensderfer called the No. 43 down pit road on Lap 223 for four tires and an air pressure adjustment. When the field cycled through pit stops, Wallace was in 15th. A late race caution setup overtime with the Smithfield Ford in the 15th spot. The team pit for two, right-side tires and restarted 15th. The final restart was mayhem and another incident brought out the caution once again. Wallace finished 11th.
“That was cool,” said Wallace. “We kept improving, each and every time on the race track, each and every race. We kept improving, I kept improving. I am getting more and more comfortable with these cars. It was a good run for our Smithfield Ford. We had a lot of fun tonight. We just fell off a lot, a lot more than the other guys. We are trying to balance that out. We took a two-tire strategy there that kind of hurt us. We fell back on that one restart. We were able to manage and maintain and work out some track position on that green-flag stop, and we were 14th and fired off right around there for the last restart and was able to hang on. It was a good day. I am having a great time in the Monster Energy Cup Series. Hopefully, there will be more.”