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Bubba Wallace advances to Round of 12

BRISTOL, Tenn. — Bubba Wallace and his No. 23 23XI Racing team kept their championship hopes alive with a clutch effort at Bristol.

Wallace finished 14th in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol Motor Speedway, pushing Joey Logano out of the Round of 12 by four points.

Wallace outlasted the defending NASCAR Cup Series champion, 2014 champion Kevin Harvick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Michael McDowell, who all bowed out of the playoffs Saturday night.

The emotions poured out of Wallace as he parked on pit road following the race. Team co-owner Michael Jordan was also in attendance to see his second car advance to the Round of 12.

At 19 points below the cutline, Bubba Wallace was in risky territory entering Bristol. While he finished seventh at Darlington, he finished 32nd at Kansas.

At Kansas, he earned nine points in stage one. That kept him in the battle.

What won him the battle was what happened at Bristol.

In stage one, crew chief Bootie Barker kept Bubba Wallace on the track. Wallace restarted in second and placed third in stage one – netting eight bonus points.

Wallace made the second round by four points. Without that strategy call, Wallace would’ve missed it by four points.

With the No. 23 team in, both 23XI Racing teams are also in the second round. Tyler Reddick took care of business for the No. 45 team with a win at Kansas.

In addition, team co-owner Denny Hamlin won Saturday night at Bristol.

Bubba Wallace doesn’t have a win but four top-fives and seven top-10s have gotten him this far in 2023.

The Round of 12 consists of Texas, Talladega and the Charlotte Roval.

Neither Texas nor the Roval have treated Wallace well throughout his Cup Series career. He has just one top-10 finish at each track.

His golden opportunity will come at Talladega. That is where he earned his first Cup win in October 2021.

While the win was his only top-10 finish at Talladega, he has also led 10 or more laps in four of the five other races there since October 2020.

The NASCAR Cup Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next for the AutoTrader EchoPark Automotive 400. Green flag set for just after 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Ch. 90.

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