There was chaos at Kansas.
Blown tires. Pit-road mistakes. Multi-car crashes. Trouble on the playoff grid.
Bubba Wallace rose above it all.
Wallace, 28, emerged late in the afternoon as a power in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Kansas Speedway and held on to score the second win of his career. At the end, Wallace outran Denny Hamlin, one of the owners of the 23XI Racing team for which Wallace drives.
Wallace took the lead with 43 laps to go and wasn’t seriously challenged the rest of the way. He led 58 laps total.
“Just so proud,” Wallace told NBC Sports. “Pit crew was awesome today. We had one loose wheel. Just thankful. Thanks for the opportunity, and thankful to shut the hell up for a lot of people.
“It’s cool to beat the boss, but man, we were just lights-out today once we got to the lead, and it was a lot of fun.”
For the second straight week, a non-playoff driver won a race, making Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway a critical one for much of the playoff field. Erik Jones won last week at Darlington Raceway. Wallace’s win marked the first time that the first two playoff races have been won by non-playoff drivers.
Wallace’s first win came last October in a rain-shortened race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.
He became this season’s 18th different winner.
Following Wallace and Hamlin at the finish were Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman and Martin Truex Jr. as Toyotas took four of the first five positions.
Bell jumped into the point lead and is locked into a spot in the Round of 12 based on points.
MORE: Kansas Cup results
MORE: Kansas driver points
The race results scrambled the playoff standings for the second straight week. Bell moved up three spots to take the point lead, while previous leader Joey Logano fell three spots to fourth. Bowman jumped four spots to sixth. Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Chase Briscoe and Kevin Harvick are the four drivers below the playoff cut line.
There were a series of problems along pit road during Sunday’s race, with several teams battling issues with uncontrolled tires and contact between cars entering and exiting pit areas. Nine of the 16 playoff drivers had issues.
The first incident involving a playoff driver sent Harvick to the garage on lap 34. Bubba Wallace and Ross Chastain were racing for position in front of Harvick, and momentum forced Harvick into the outside wall. Right-front damage on the car was too extensive for quick repair.
Tyler Reddick, another playoff driver, slammed the wall 20 laps later after blowing a tire and parked his Chevrolet.
Kyle Busch lost control of his car in Turn 4 on lap 139, slid across the track and blew tires as he spun onto grass. He lost a lap in the pits.
We are winners again! Proud of @BubbaWallace and @23XIRacing for getting it done today. 🏁🏁 pic.twitter.com/QkEFkcNqsO
— Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) September 11, 2022
Stage 1 winner: Christopher Bell
Stage 2 winner: Alex Bowman
Who had a good race: Bubba Wallace, eager to silence critics who had downplayed the importance of his victory last year in a rain-shortened race, dominated Sunday’s final stage for his second career win. … A fourth-place finish boosted Christopher Bell into the point lead. … Alex Bowman led a race-high 107 laps, finished fourth and now is sixth in points.
Who had a bad race: For the second straight week, Kevin Harvick stared into the abyss. His car was heavily damaged when he hit the outside wall early in the race, and Harvick finished last. … After a boost at Darlington, Tyler Reddick logged a bad finish at Kansas after a blown tire put his car into the wall. He fell six spots in the standings to 11th. … Joey Logano lost the point lead with a 17th-place finish.
Next: The final race in the first round of the playoffs is scheduled Saturday, Sept. 17, at Bristol Motor Speedway with a 7:30 p.m. start time. The race will be televised by the USA Network.
MJ on the second career win for @BubbaWallace 🏆
📍@kansasspeedway 𝟗.𝟏𝟏.𝟐𝟐 pic.twitter.com/9Dz3qITOkc
— 23XI Racing (@23XIRacing) September 12, 2022