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Bubba Wallace poised for race-winning speed at Kansas

Bubba Wallace has been improving every week and Kansas represents a comeback story from Michigan. Why is Wallace poised for a big weekend?

Austin Konenski
NASCAR: Cup Practice & Qualifying
Matthew OHaren-USA TODAY Sports

The last time Bubba Wallace went to a 1.5-plus mile oval track that did not have a superspeedway package, he was a top-3 caliber car that could have gone on for the victory at Michigan International Speedway.

Why does Wallace have a great shot at playing the spoiler at Kansas Speedway this Sunday?

Bubba Wallace’s previous statistics at Kansas Speedway

NASCAR Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace (23) sips on a drink Sunday, July 31, 2022, before the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Credit: Bob Goshert/For IndyStar / USA TODAY NETWORK

It is hard to look at Wallace’s previous statistics at Kansas Speedway due to the quality of his past equipment but it’s still important to note. There is not much at the beginning but has been getting better.

Wallace started out in the No. 43 car for what was once called Richard Petty Motorsports. He attempted six races for the organization and came home with an 18th place finish in his final start, which was the best of the six-race stretch.

After Wallace’s move to 23XI Racing, he placed the No. 23 car in 26th place but it was the organization’s 11th points-paying race of its existence so there is leeway when it comes to the 2021 season.

He bounced back later in the season after having more time to improve and gel with the team. Wallace finished in 14th place before besting that again in the first Kansas race of the 2022 season with a 10th place finish.

Related: Bubba Wallace inks multi-year extension with 23XI Racing

Facts and statistics that back up Bubba Wallace’s potential at Kansas

NASCAR: AdventHealth 400
Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

Wallace is going to have a great weekend ahead of him while driving the No. 45 car for 23XI Racing in the second race of the Round of 16. The 28-year-old driver is a part of the championship chase as the No. 45 car battles for the owner’s championship.

How did this happen when Wallace drove the No. 23 car this season? Kurt Busch suffered a concussion due to several crashes this season and later pulled his waiver eligibility for the playoffs.

Related: Bubba Wallace will drive the No. 45 car for 23XI Racing

However, Busch did win in convincing fashion in the No. 45 car at Kansas Speedway over his brother Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson. It was 23XI Racing’s first career victory on a non-superspeedway track and full-distance event.

Busch had the third fastest speed ranking while Wallace sat in ninth place. It was top-10 speed for the Mobile native but not enough to have a chance at competing for the victory with his teammate.

Fast forward to Michigan International Speedway in early August. Wallace came home with a second-place finish and there was a real possibility he wins without a caution or any other issues for the team that day.

Wallace ranked fourth in the fastest laps during the race. Plus, he had the second-best speed ranking over the course of the event. It was evident this was a possibility when he earned the pole.

Toyota Racing has arguably fielded the fastest entries when going to 1.5-mile tracks and bigger this season. It’s certainly a great piece of information for the other Toyota playoff drivers in Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Christopher Bell.

One or all of them will join Wallace in what is likely going to be a very impressive weekend for the camp. The speed everyone showed at Darlington Raceway was a great start for Toyota Racing.

Busch and Truex dominated the event before suffering mechanical issues late in the Final Stage. Hamlin and Bell stayed out of trouble and brought home top-5 finishes while Wallace saw himself in ninth place at the end.

Based on the advanced statistics, the start and end were very strong for the 26-year-old driver. The middle portions of the event are where the speed was down after looking like a top-7 car at the beginning.

As NASCAR returns to one of Toyota’s strong tracks, it should not be a surprise to see Wallace clinch a spot for the No. 45 car in the Round of 12 at Kansas Speedway.