New Hampshire finish leaves Bubba Wallace smiling


LOUDON, N.H. — For once, nothing broke, backfired or needed to be explained by Bubba Wallace and his 23XI Racing team. 

“It’s been hell for me the last month,” he told NBC Sports’ Kim Coon after his third-place finish Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

It’s actually been more like two months for Wallace and his team.

But Sunday was a day where things went right. Wallace scored his third top-10 finish of the season and his best result since placing second in the Daytona 500.

“We’ve had a lot of speed all year, and we’ve had cars capable of that,” Wallace said. “It’s finally good to see that come to fruition. That’s what our races can be like if we continue to do that. 

“Just take a page out of this book for everybody on the team to learn from. Myself, I made a lot of mistakes today, especially in the last 20 laps just trying not to lose focus. You’ve got two of the best behind you in (Kevin) Harvick and (Martin) Truex. 

“It’s all about hitting your marks. I can go back and watch and know how to do better. I’m sure we can do better, bringing a better car. We did excellent today, I’m proud of everybody, but you can always get better, right?”

His last top 10 was two months ago at Kansas, but that 10th-place finish was not a highlight for the team. Wallace had one of the faster cars that day but two pit road penalties sent him to back each time. Wallace left the track frustrated, telling NBC Sports that his “pit crew sucks.”

Two weeks later, Wallace’s car suffered minor damage in an incident shortly before the end of the second stage at the Coca-Cola 600. Because Wallace was involved in an incident, he was on the damaged vehicle policy and had three laps to get to minimum speed. The team told him to hang back from the pack on the restart to avoid another incident. Wallace didn’t achieve the minimum speed, following his team’s instructions and NASCAR parked the car after it failed to reach speed. A team mistake ended Wallace’s race early.

Two weeks after that, Wallace finished last at Sonoma when his engine blew after nine of 110 laps.

Earlier this month, brake issues ended Wallace’s race early at Road America. 

Since placing 10th at Kansas, Wallace had four finishes of 26th or worse in the last six races.

Not having any issues at New Hampshire meant as much as scoring a top-five finish. 

“They probably only had a top 10 car, maybe around a fifth-place car best, but they executed well, put a whole race together,” Mike Wheeler, competition director for 23XI Racing, told NBC Sports. 

“There’s definitely been some emphasis lately on trying to make sure we execute races.”


On a day when Kevin Harvick was closing the gap to the playoff cutline, Christopher Bell’s victory put Harvick further behind the cutline with six races left in the regular season. 

Harvick trailed Bell by 19 points for the final playoff spot entering New Hampshire. Harvick ran well in the first two stages, outscoring Bell 15-7 in stage points. That closed Harvick’s deficit to Bell to 11 points entering the final stage.

Everything changed during the caution at Lap 206 of the 301-lap race for Todd Gilliland’s Incident. 

Crew chief Rodney Childers called for a two-tire stop for Harvick. Childers told NBC Sports that he had watched Kyle Larson move through the field earlier in the race after a two-tire stop and thought that would help Harvick, who had one of the stronger cars.

But the pit stop did not go as well as hoped. As Harvick exited his stall, Austin Dillon entered his in front of Harvick. They made contact, slowing Harvick.

“That cost us two rows on the restart,” Childers told NBC Sports. “If we could have put two tires on and started two rows further forward, maybe it would have been a little bit better.”

Harvick restated on the inside of row three, directly behind Truex. After the green waved, Harvick dived under Truex and they went three-wide. Truex was in the middle. Harvick got by and was seventh on Lap 210. Bell was 10th.

But Bell passed Kyle Busch, Truex and Harvick on the next lap to move to seventh, beginning his run to the front, aided by a four-tire stop.

Bell became the 14th different winner this season, leaving only two playoffs spots open to drivers without victories. That put Truex on the cutline. He leads Harvick by 68 points. 

“If you can’t win,” Childers said, “you probably don’t need to be in it anyway.”


A no-call by NASCAR last week helped play a role in Christopher Bell’s win.

Bell had a wheel come off just after he left his pit box the week before at Atlanta Motor Speedway. There was little traffic on pit road and the tire rolled slowly and didn’t go far.

Earlier this season, NASCAR amended its rule on loose wheels that allowed it to penalize a team for losing a wheel on pit road. Series officials decided not to penalize Bell’s team because the tire didn’t go far from the pit stall and didn’t impact anyone else on pit road.

Had NASCAR elected to penalize Bell’s team, crew chief Adam Stevens and two pit crew members would have been suspended four races. That could have begun at New Hampshire if the team didn’t appeal.

Stevens said it was significant not to get the penalty because it would have come one week after the team swapped a tire changer and tire carrier with Bubba Wallace’s team and switched its other tire changer. 

“It would have been a bigger factor with the over-the-wall guys than it would be without my physical presence,” Stevens said after Sunday’s win. “With all the tools and communication, ways to communicate that we have, me sitting (at Joe Gibbs Racing) wouldn’t have been the end of the world. Certainly my two engineers are very, very capable, and they could probably answer the questions that I would need to answer without my input. That wouldn’t slow us down I don’t think.

“But if you’re going back to the drawing board with the pit crew roster, we just had one week to gel in Atlanta, and this was our second week for them to gel. 

“I don’t think you can in a couple practices, work all those kinks out, and obviously we feel like we’re putting our best foot forward there. To bring a couple new guys in would have been tough. I think that would have been the story.”

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”