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POCONOTES: Wallace Walks Away From Violent Wreck

July 30, 2018
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POCONO NOTES: Wallace Walks Away From Violent Wreck

LONG POND — A violent wreck during Sunday’s Gander Outdoors 400 left Darrell “Bubba” Wallace unhurt but shaken at Pocono Raceway.

Wallace was coming down the straightaway on lap 154 when his brakes failed. He turned left and slid across the grass, slamming the wall in turn 1.

“The lap before I was holding off Aric (Almirola) going into (turn) 1 and the pedal went to the floor, so I went to the bottom,” Wallace said. “Your natural instinct is to try to use up all the track when that happens. So, it went to the floor, pump it up, get through the tunnel (turn) and through (turn) 3 and then down into (turn) 1. I started pumping it right past (the) start/finish line and it blew.”

“I should have hooked a right into the fence and stayed up there to use that to slow me down, but I’m used to turning left and there she went through the grass,” Wallace said.

After climbing out of the mangled No. 43 Chevrolet, Wallace sat down beside his car, catching his breath, before walking to a waiting ambulance.

“Hardest hit of my career,” Wallace said. “I was just telling them here there is no feeling like being helpless in that situation, going off into turn 1, and it scared the hell out of me.”

The frightening crash was reminiscent of hard hits at Pocono involving Jeff Gordon in 2006 and Jimmie Johnson in June 2017. NASCAR red-flagged Sunday’s race for just over 10 minutes to clean up the track.

After the wreck, the Richard Petty Motorsports driver still had his sense of humor.

“They gave me an ultrasound,” Wallace said after he was evaluated from the infield care center. “No twins or anything, so I’m good.”

The wreck relegated Wallace to a 33rd-place finish, his fourth finish of 30th or worse this season.

 

Career bests

Daniel Suarez and Alex Bowman scored their career-best finishes Sunday at Pocono.

Suarez piloted the No. 19 Toyota to a second-place finish for Joe Gibbs Racing. The driver from Monterrey, Mexico, started Sunday’s race from the pole and led 29 laps, the most he’s led all season.

He contended for the win in the race’s final laps, but his teammate Kyle Busch held him off en route to victory.

“We raced in the start of the race — we were OK — and then we were a little bit bad,” Suarez said. “We made some adjustments in a couple of stops and we got the car better. So that for me means a lot — how well the communication was working today to make good adjustments in the race car to keep ourselves in front.”

After starting 10th, Bowman finished third in the No. 88 Chevrolet, his eighth top-10 finish of the season. He was the highest-finishing Hendrick Motorsports driver.

“Obviously, it was a great points day for us, but on top of that, it’s proof that we’re improving each and every week and continually getting better,” Bowman said. “Days like today make all the hard work for the guys back at the shop, the engine shop, the chassis shop, body shop, the whole road crew, days like today make it worth it.”

Bowman’s car featured a Pennsylvania connection. The No. 88 sported a paint scheme honoring the Philadelphia Eagles, the Super Bowl champions.

 

No broom for Truex

After his June race win, Martin Truex Jr. wanted to become the eighth driver to sweep both Cup Series races at Pocono.

Truex consistently ran in the top 15 Sunday. But the Furniture Row Racing driver never mounted a challenge for the win.

Since 1982, when the Cup Series began visiting Pocono twice per season, the seven drivers to record season sweeps are: Bobby Allison (1982), Bill Elliott (1985), Tim Richmond (1986), Bobby Labonte (1999), Jimmie Johnson (2004), Denny Hamlin (2006) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (2014).

 

Poconotes

Chase Elliott won the first stage of Sunday’s race, his second stage win in as many weeks. He won one last week at New Hampshire. ... Jimmie Johnson finished 17th in his 600th Cup Series start. ... Erik Jones finished third after running in the top five most of the day. He led 11 laps. ... On Sunday, NASCAR unveiled the logo for the Truck Series for next season. The series, which has been sponsored by Camping World, will be sponsored by Gander Outdoors in 2019. ... State Attorney General Josh Shapiro visited Pocono Raceway to urge people to drop off unused drugs at the track’s drug takeback program. The state attorney general’s office is partnering with the track to fight the opioid epidemic.

Contact the writer: rkivak@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-5126; @TTRebeccaKivak on Twitter

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