Roush Fenway Racing’s Bubba Wallace overcame adversity to earn a top-10 finish in Saturday afternoon’s NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Road America. Wallace received the free pass and gained over 20 positions in the closing laps of the race to finish ninth in the LoudMouth Exhaust Ford Mustang.
On Friday evening, Wallace barely missed the final round of qualifying, earning a 13th-place starting spot for the scheduled 45-Lap race. After a drizzly morning on Saturday, the race started under overcast skies.
Crew chief Seth Barbour stuck to his plan, calling Wallace down pit road on Lap 8 for a scheduled pit stop for four tires and fuel. After the green flag pit stop, Wallace returned to the track in 30th-position. When the caution flew a few laps later, several lead lap cars visited pit road. Wallace stayed out and once again found himself back in the top-10.
Shortly after the restart, Wallace reported to the team that his LoudMouth Exhaust Ford was tight through the right hand turns. On Lap 25 the caution was displayed for light rain. The caution put most of the leaders on the same pit strategy, bringing Wallace down pit road on Lap 27 for four tires and fuel. With the rain light and dissipating, Barbour opted to put “slick” tires on, leaving the rain tires on standby.
Shortly after the Lap 28 restart, Wallace radioed to the team that he had run off track and gotten grass and debris on the grille. Barbour asked his driver to keep an eye on his temperatures. Not long after, Wallace visited pit road under green to have his grille cleaned. When the No. 6 stopped in the pit box, water was spewing from the car.
Barbour instructed Wallace to turn off the car, while the team hooked up the cool down unit to cycle in water. In the process, Wallace lost one lap to the leaders. He returned to the track in 32nd, but in position for the free pass.
Two laps later when the caution flag waved, Wallace received the free pass and returned to the lead lap. Under the caution, Wallace visited pit road again for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
On Lap 38, Wallace restarted 31st, working his way up to 14th when the caution flew on Lap 43, pushing the race into overtime. Wallace gained five positions during the green-white-checker finish, bringing the LoudMouth Exhaust Ford Mustang home in ninth.