FORT WORTH — Bubba Wallace will start 10th in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 Sunday, his first top-10 start of 2018 and second of his career in the Cup Series.
Wallace, in his second full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, earned his highest start since the 2018 Daytona 500 (seventh) with his qualifying lap time of 28.99 seconds (186.67 mph) Friday at Texas Motor Speedway.
“Damn, how about that, hell yeah,” Wallace said to The Racing Experts after his qualifying run. “That’s the most I’ve said in about five weeks, so that’s good.”
PJ1 Track Bite Traction Compound, previously seen at other Cup Series venues, was added to the 1.5-mile racing surface. Wallace commented on that and shared more insight on his top-10 qualifying effort.
“Starting 10th, this place is tricky, but there’s something to do with the PJ1, I think it’s going to be a little bit better on the restarts,” Wallace said. “You’re not going to be fighting for the bottom as hard. But who knows? It will be a handful, for sure, but I’m just excited.”
Wallace is 27th in driver’s standings entering race No. 7 of the season, 65 points behind Daniel Suarez (16th), who holds the final playoff-eligible position.
Wallace has netted one lead lap finish this year, posting a 17th-place run last week at Martinsville Speedway. It was the Richard Petty Motorsports driver’s highest finish this season thus far.
“This is a run that the team needed,” Wallace said. “I know it’s qualifying, but hell; it used to be it’s not where you start but where you finish. But now, it really matters where you start.”
Seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson will lead the field to the green Sunday, earning his first pole of 2019 and first since the 2016 season.
The O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 will be televised live on FOX Sunday at 3 p.m. ET.
I am a co-owner and reporter for TheRacingExperts.com.