NASCAR 2022: Bubba Wallace Jr. takes Kurt Busch's car into Kansas victory lane

NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400
Bubba Wallace Jr. celebrates in Victory Lane after 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Hollywood Casino 400

Driving the #45 Toyota Camry, Bubba Wallace Jr. won the second playoff race of the 2022 season at the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday. The 28-year-old secured his first win of the 2022 season after beating his team’s co-owner Denny Hamlin in the closing laps of the 400-mile-long race.

With the win, Wallace Jr., who switched to Kurt Busch’s #45 car before the playoffs to keep the car eligible for owners’ competition, qualified Busch’s car for the second round of the playoffs. His late-season surge came too late for him to qualify for the playoffs, but it will definitely boost a lot of confidence for him and his team about their postseason viability for 2023.

Bubba Wallace Jr. emerged victorious after taking the lead from Alex Bowman with 67 laps remaining and held off a late charge from Denny Hamlin in the closing laps. After taking the lead back on Lap 225, steadily built a solid margin over the playoff drivers and took an impressive 1.137-second win on the 1.5-mile-long track. He led the last 43 laps despite a significant push from his car owner, Hamlin, to cut into the lead.

The win marked the second NASCAR Cup Series victory for the #45 driver, making him the 18th different winner of the 2022 season. His win also marked the first time that the first two playoff races have been won by two non-playoff drivers.

The Hollywood Casino 400 saw 16 lead changes among 12 different drivers. The venue hosted its 22nd Cup race and the new Next Gen cars for the second time on the 1.5-mile-long track and witnessed nine caution flags.

Bubba Wallace Jr. talks about his Hollywood Casino 400 win

Sunday’s win was amazing for Bubba Wallace Jr. and the #45 23XI Racing team as they tasted their first victory of the season. The Mobile-Alabama native has faced plenty of criticism over his career and a Kansas race win will be enough to shut the mouths of critics.

During the post-race interview, speaking about his first win of the 2022 season at Kansas Speedway, Wallace Jr. said:

“Man, just so proud of this team, so proud of the effort that they put in each and every week. Just thankful for the opportunity, right? Took this jump from an idea two years ago from a text from Denny before it all even happened. Just so proud. 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.”

Catch Bubba Wallace Jr. for the Bass Pro Shops Night Race, the third playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday, September 17, 2022.

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Edited by Anurag C
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